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3 1924 075 867 105 








" Nothing in him 

But doth suifer a sea-chcinge. " 










" Quoth he, there was a ship.'' 

This brief preface may begin hke the tale of the Ancient 
Mariner, since it was on shipboard that the author acquired the 
very moderate degree of local knowledge and information, both of 
people and scenery, which he has endeavoured to embody in the 
romance of the Pirate. ' 

In the summer and autumn of 1814, the author was invited to 
join a party of Commissioners for the Northern Light-House 
Service, who proposed making a voyage round the coast of Scot- 
land, and through its various groups of islands, chiefly for the 
purpose of seeing the condition of the many lighthouses under their 
direction, — edifices so important, whether regarding them as 
benevolent or political institutions. Among the commissioners 
who manage this important public concern, the sheriff of each 
county of Scotland which borders on the sea, holds ex-officio a 
place at the Board. These gentlemen act in every respect gra- 
tuitously, but have the use of an armed yacht, well found and fitted 
up, when they choose to visit the lighthouses. An excellent 
engineer, Mr. Robert Stevenson, is attached to the Board, to afford 
the benefit of his professional advice. The author accompanied 
this expedition as a guest ; for Selkirkshire, though it calls him 
Sheriff, has not, like the kingdom of Bohemia in Corporal Trim's 
story, a seaport in its circuit, nor its magistrate, of course, any 
place at the Board of Commissioners, — a circumstance of little 
consequence where all were old and intimate friends, bred to the 
same profession, and disposed to accommodate each other in every 
possible manner. 

The nature of the important business which was the principal 
purpose of the voyage, was connected with the amusement of visit- 
ing the leading objects of a traveller's curiosity ; for the wild cape, 
or formidable shelve, which requires to be marked out by a light- 
house, is generally at no great distance from the most magnificent 


scenery of rocks, caves, and billows. Our time, too, was at our own 
disposal, and, as most of us were freshwater sailors, we could at 
any time make a fair wind out of a foul one. and run before the gale 
in quest of some object of curiosity which lay under our lee. 

With these purposes of public utility and some personal amuse- 
ment in view, we left the port of Leith on the 36th July, 1 814, ran 
along the east coast of Scotland, viewing its different curiosities, 
stood over to Zetland and Orkney, where we were some time 
detained by the wonders of a country which displayed so much that 
was new to us ; and having seen what was curious in the Ultima 
Thule of the ancients, where the sun hardly thought it worth while 
to go to bed, since his rising was at this season'so early, we doubled 
the extreme northern termination of Scotland, and tbok a rapid 
survey of the Hebrides, where we found many kind friends. There, 
that our little expedition might not want the dignity of danger, we 
were favoured with a distant glimpse of what was said to be an 
American cruiser, and had opportunity to consider what a pretty 
figure we should have made had the voyage ended in our being 
carried captive to the United States. After visiting the romantic 
shores of Morven, and the vicinity of Oban, we made a run to the 
coast of Ireland, and visited the Giant's Causeway, that we might 
compare it with Staffa, which we had surveyed in our course. At 
length, about the middle of September, we ended our voyage in the 
Clyde, at the port of Greenock. 

And thus terminated our pleasant tour, to which our equipment 
gave unusual facilities, as the ship's company could form a strong 
boat's crew, independent of those who might be left on board the 
vessel, which permitted us the freedom to land wherever our 
curiosity carried us. Let me add, while reviewing for a moment 
a sunny portion of my life, that among the six or seven friends who 
performed this voyage together, some of them doubtless of different 
tastes and pursuits, and remaining for several weeks on board a 
small vessel, there never occurred the slightest dispute or disagree- 
ment, each seeming anxious to submit his own particular wishes to 
those of his friends. By this mutual accommodation all the pur- 
poses of our little expedition were obtained, while for a time we 
might have adopted the lines of Allan Cunningham's fine sea-song, 

" The world of waters was our home. 
And merry men were we ! " 

But sorrow mixes her memorials with the purest remembrances 
of pleasure. On returning from the voyage which had proved so 
satisfactory, I found that fate had deprived her country most unex- 
pectedly of a lady, quaUfied to adorn the high rank which she held. 


and who had long admitted me to a share of her friendship. The 
subsequent loss of one of those comrades who made up the party, 
and he the most intimate friend I had in the world, casts also its 
shade on recollections which, but for these embitterments, would 
be otherwise so pleasing. 

I may here briefly observe, that my business in this voyage, so 
far as I could be said to have any, was to endeavour to discover 
some localities which might be useful in the " Lord of the Isles," a 
poem with which I was then threatening the public, and was after- 
wards printed without attaining remarkable success. But as at the 
same time the anonymous novel of " Waverley," was making its way 
to popularity, I already augured the possibility of a second effort in 
this department of literature, and I saw much in the wild islands of 
the Orkneys and Zetland, which I judged might be made in the 
highest degree interesting, should these isles ever become the scene 
of a narrative of fictitious events. I learned the history of Gow the 
pirate from an old sibyl, (the subject of a note, at end of this 
volume,) whose principal subsistence was by a trade in favourable 
winds, which she sold to mariners at Stromness. Nothing could 
be more interesting than the kindness and hospitality of the gentle- 
men of Zetland, which was to me the more affecting, as several of 
them had been friends and correspondents of my father. 

I was induced to go a generation or two farther back, to find 
materials from which I might trace the features of the old Nor- 
wegian Udaller, the Scottish gentry having in general occupied the 
place of that primitive race, and their language and peculiarities of 
manner having entirely disappeared. The only difference now to 
be observed betwixt the gentry of these islands, and those of Scot- 
land in general, is, that the wealth and property is more equally 
divided among our more northern countrymen, and that there 
exists among the resident proprietors no men of very great wealth, 
whose display of its luxuries might render the others discontented 
with their own lot. From the same cause of general equality of 
fortunes, and the cheapness of living, which is its natural conse- 
quence, I found the officers of a veteran regiment who had 
maintained the garrison at Fort Charlotte, in Lerwick, discom- 
posed at the idea of being recalled from a country where their pay, 
however inadequate to the expenses of a capital, was fully adequate 
to their wants, and it was singular to hear natives of merry En- 
gland herself regretting their approaching departure from the melan- 
choly isles of the Ultima Thule. 

Such are the trivial particulars attending the origin of that 
publication, which took place several years later than the agreeable 
journey from which it took its rise. 


The state of manners which I have introduced in the romance, 
was necessarily in a great degree imaginary, though founded in 
some measure on shght hints, which, showing what was, seemed to 
give reasonable indication of what must once have been, the tone 
of the society in these sequestered but interesting islands. 

In one respect I was judged somewhat hastily, perhaps, when the 
character of Noma was pronounced by the critics a mere copy of 
Meg Merrilees. That I had fallen short of what I wished and 
desired to express is unquestionable, otherwise my object could not 
have been so widely mistaken ; nor can I yet think that any person 
who will take the trouble of reading the Pirate with some attention, 
can fail to trace in Noma, — the victim of remorse.and insanity, and 
the dupe of her own imposture, her mind, too, flooded with all the 
wild literature and extravagant superstitions of the north, — some- 
thing distinct from the Dumfries-shire gipsy, whose pretensions 
to supernatural powers are not beyond those of a Norwood pro- 
phetess. The foundations of such a character may be perhaps traced, 
though it be too true, that the necessary superstructure cannot have 
been raised upon them, otherwise these remarks would have been 
unnecessary. There is also great improbability in the statement of 
Noma's possessing power and opportunity to impress on others 
that belief in her supernatural gifts which distracted her own mind. 
Yet, amid a very credulous and ignorant population, it is astonish- 
ing what success may be attained by an impostor, v/ho is, at the 
same time, an enthusiast. It is such as to remind us of the couplet 
which assures us that ' 

" The pleasure is as great 
In being cheated as to cheat." 

Indeed, as I have observed elsewhere, the professed explanation 
of a tale, where appearances or incidents of a supernatural character 
are referred to natural causes, h^s often, in tBe winding up of the 
story, a degree of improbability almost equal to an absolute goblin 
narrative. Even the genius of Mrs. Radcliffe could not always sur- 
mount this difficulty. 

1st May, 1 83 1. 


The purpose of the following Narrative is to 'give a detailed and 
accurate account of certain remarkable incidents which took place 
in the Orkney Islands, concerning which the more imperfect tra- 
ditions and mutilated records of the country only tell us the 
following erroneous particulars : — 

In the month of January, 1724-5, a vessel, called the Revenge, 
bearing twenty large guns, and six smaller, commanded by John 
Gow, or GOFFE, or Smith, came to the Orkney Islands, and was 
discovered to be a pirate, by various adts of insolence and villainy 
committed by the crew. These were for some time submitted to, 
the inhabitants of these remote islands not possessing arms nor 
means of resistance ; and so bold was the captain of these banditti, 
that he not only came ashore, and gave dancing parties in the 
village of Stromness, but before his real character was discovered, 
engaged the affections, and received the troth-plight, of a young 
Jady possessed of some property. A patriotic individual, James 
Fea, younger of Clestron, formed the plan of securing the buccanier, 
which he effected by a mixture of courage and address, in conse- 
quence chiefly of Gow's vessel having gone' on shore near the 
harbour of Calfsound, on the Island of Eda, not far distant from a 
house then inhabited by Mr. Fea. In the various stratagems by 
which Mr. Fea contrived finally, at the peril of his life, (they being 
well armed and desperate,) to make the whole pirates his prisoners, 
he was much aided by Mr. James Laing, the grandfather of the 
late Malcolm Laing, Esq. the acute and ingenious historian of 
Scotland during the 17th century. 

Gow, and others of his crew, suffered by sentence of the High 
Court of Admiralty, the punishment their crimes had long deserved. 
He conducted himself with great audacity when before the Court ; 
and, from an account of the matter by an eye-witness, seems to 
have been subjected to some unusual severities, in order to compel 
him to plead. The words are these: — "John Gow would not 
plead, for which he was brought to the bar, and the Judge ordered 
that his thumbs should be squeezed by two men, with a whip-cord, 
till it did break ; and then it should be doubled, till it did again 
break, and then laid threefold, and that the executioners should pull 
with their whole strength ; which sentence Gow endured with a 
great deal of boldness." The next morning, (27th May, 17.25,) 


when he had seen the terrible preparations for pressing him to 
death, his courage gave way, and he told the Marshal of Court, 
that he would not have given so much trouble, had he been assured 
of not being hanged in chains. He was then tried, condemned, 
and executed, with others of his crew. 

It is said, that the lady whose affections Gowhad engaged, went 
up to London to see him before his death, and that, arriving too 
late, she had the courage to request a sight of his dead body ; and 
then, touching the hand of the corpse, she formally resumed the 
troth-plight which she had bestowed. Without going through this 
ceremony, she could not, according to the superstition of the 
country, have escaped a visit from the ghost of her departed lover, 
in the event of her bestowing upon any living suitor the faith which 
she had phghted to the dead. This part of the legend may serve 
as a curious commentary on the fine Scottish ballad, which begins, 

" There came a ghost to Margaret's door,'' &c. 

The common account of this incident farther bears, that Mi". 
Fea, the spirited individul by whose exertions Gow's career of 
iniquity was cut short, was so far from receiving any reward from 
Government, that he could not obtain even countenance enough to 
protect him against a variety of sKam suits, raised against him by 
Newgate solicitors who acted in the name of Gow, and others of 
the pirate crew ; and the various expenses, vexatious prosecutions, 
and other legal consequences, in which his gallant exploit involved 
him, utterly ruined his fortune, and his family ; making his memory 
a notable example to all who shall in future take pirates on their 
own authority. 

It is to be supposed, for the honour of George the First's 
Government, that the last circumstance, as well as the dates, and 
other particulars of the commonly received story, are inaccurate, 
since they will be found totally irreconcilable with the following 
veracious narrative, compiled from materials to which he himself 
alone has had access, by 

The Author of Waverley. 



The storm had ceased its wintry roar, 
Hoarse dash tlie billows of the sea ; 

But who on Thule's desert shore, 

Cries, Have I burnt my harp for thee ? 


That long, narrow, and irregular island, usually called the main- 
land of Zetland, because it is by far the largest of that Archipelago, 
terminates, as is well known to the mariners who navigate the 
stormy seas which surround the Thule of the ancients, in a cliff of 
immense height, entitled Sumburgh-Head, which presents its bare 
scalp and naked sides to the weight of a tremendous surge, forming 
the extreme point of the isle to the south-east. This lofty pro- 
montory is constantly exposed to the current of a strong and furious 
tide, which, setting in betwixt the Orkney and Zetland Islands, and 
running with force only inferior to that of the Pentland Frith, takes 
its name from the headland we have mentioned, and is called the 
Roost of Sumburgh ; roost being tte phrase assigned in those isles 
to currents of this description. 

On the land side, the promontory is covered with short grass, and 
slopes steeply down to a little isthmus, upon which the sea has 
encroached in creeks, which, advancing from either side of the 
island, gradually work their way forward, and seem as if in a short 
time they would form a junction, and altogether insulate Sumburgh- 
Head, when what is now a cape, will become a lonely mountain 
islet, severed from, the mainland, of which it is at present the 
terminating extremity. 

Man, however, had in former days considered this as a remote 
or unlikely event ; for a Norwegian chief of other times, or, as 
other accounts said, and as the name of Jarlshof seemed to imply, 
an ancient Earl of the Orkneys had selected this neck of land as 
the place for establishing a mansion-house. It has been long 
entirely deserted, and the vestiges only can be discerned with 


difficulty ; for the loose sand, borne on the tempestuous gales of 
those stormy regions, has overblown, and almost buried, the ruins 
of the buildings ; but in the end of the seventeenth century, a part 
of the Earl's mansion was still entire and habitable. It was a rude 
building of rough stone, with nothing about it to gratify the eye, or 
to excite the imagination ; a large old-fashioned narrow house, 
with a very steep roof, covered with flags composed of grey sand- 
stone, would perhaps convey the best idea of the place to a modern 
reader. The windows were few, very small in size, and distributed 
up and down the building with utter contempt of regularity. Against 
the main structure had rested, in former times, certain smaller 
copartments of the mansion-house, containing offices, or sub- 
ordinate apartments, necessary for the accommodation of the 
Earl's retainers and menials. But these had become ruinous ;' and 
the rafters had been taken down for fire-wood, or for other purposes ; 
the walls had given way in many places ; and, to complete the 
devastation, the sand had already drifted amongst the ruins, and 
filled up what had been once the chambers they contained, to the 
depth of two or three feet. 

Amid this desolation, the inhabitants of Jarlshof had contrived, 
by constant labour and attention, to keep in order a few roods of 
land, which had been enclosed as a garden, and which, sheltered 
by the walls of the house itself, from the relentless sea-blast, pro- 
duced such vegetables as the climate could bring forth, or rather as 
the sea-gale would permit to grow ; for these islands experience 
even less of the rigour of cold than is encountered on the mainland 
of Scotland ; but, unsheltered by a wall of some sort or other, it is 
scarce possible to raise even the most ordinary culinary vegetables ; 
and as for shrubs or tree's, they are entirely out of the question, 
such is the force of the sweeping sea-blast. 

At a short distance from the mansion, and near to the sea-beach, 
just where the creek forms a sort of imperfect harbour, in which lay 
three or four fishing-boats, there were a few most wretched cottages 
for the inhabitants and tenants of the township of Jarlshof, who held 
the whole district of the landlord upon such terms as were in those 
days usually granted to persons of this description, and which, of 
course, were hard enough. The landlord himself -resided upon an 
estate which he possessed in a more eligible situation, in a different 
part of the island, and seldom visited his possessions at Sumburgh- 
Head. He was an honest, plain Zetland gentleman, somewhat 
passionate, the necessary result of being surrounded by dependents ; 
and somewhat over-convivial in his habits, the consequence, per- 
haps, of having too much time at liis disposal ; but frank-tempei'ed 
and generous to his people, and kind and hospitable to strangers. 


He was descended also of an old and noble Norwegian family ; 
a circumstance which rendered him dearer to the lower orders, 
most of whom are of the same race ; while the lairds, or proprietors, 
are generally of Scottish extraction, who, at that early period, were 
still considered as strangers and. intruders. Magnus Troil, who 
deduced his descent from the very Earl who was supposed to have 
founded Jarlshof, was peculiarly of this opinion. 

The present inhabitants ofj Jarlshof had experienced, on several 
occasions, the kindness and good will of the proprietor of the 
territory. When Mr. Mertoun — such was the name of the present 
inhabitant of the old mansion — first arrived in Zetland, some years 
before the story commences, he had been received at the house of 
Mr. Troil with that warm and cordial hospitality for which the 
islands are distinguished. No one asked him whence he came, 
where he was going, what was his purpose in visiting so remote 
a corner of the empire, or what was likely to be the term of 
his stay. He arrived a perfect stranger, yet was instantly over- 
powered by a succession of invitations ; and in each house which he 
visited, he found a home as long as he chose to accept it, and lived 
as one of the family, unnoticed and unnoticing, until he thought 
proper to remove to some other dwelling. This apparent indifference 
to the rank, character, and qualities of their guest, did not arise 
from apathy on the part of his kind hosts, for the islanders had 
their full share of natural curiosity ; but their delicacy deemed it 
would be an infringement upon the laws of hospitality, to ask 
questions which their guest might have found it difficult or un- 
pleasing to answer ; and instead of endeavouring, as is usual in 
other countries, to wring out of Mr. Mertoun such communications 
as he might find it agreeable to withhold, the considerate Zetlanders 
contented themselves with eagerly gathering up such scraps of in- 
formation as could be collected in the course of conversation. 

But the rock in an Arabian desert is not more reluctant to afford 
water, than Mr. Basil Mertoun was niggard in imparting his con- 
fidence, even incidentally ; and certainly the politeness of the gentry 
of Thule was never put to a more severe test than when they felt 
that good-breeding enjoined them to abstain from enquiring into 
the situation of so mysterious a personage. 

All that was actually known of him was easily summed up. Mr. 
Mertoun had come to Lerwick, then rising into some imnortance, 
but not yet acknowledged as the principal town of the island, in a 
Dutch Vessel, accompanied only by his son, a handsome boy of 
about fourteen years old. His own age might exceed forty. The 
Dutch skipper introduced him to some of the very good friends 
with whom he used to. barter gin and gingerbread for little Zetland 


bullocks, smoked geese, and stockings of lambswool ; and although 
Meinheer could only say, that " Meinheer Mertoun hab bay his 
bassage like one gentlemans, and hab given a Kreitz-doUar beside 
to the' crew," this introduction served to establish the Dutchman's 
passenger in a respectable circle of acquaintances, which gradually 
enlarged, as it appeared that the stranger was a man of considerable 

This discovery was made almost per force; for Mertoun was as 
unwilling to speak upon general subjects, as upon his own affairs. 
But he was sometimes led into discussions, which showed, as it were 
in spite of himself, the scholar and the man of the world ; and, at 
other times, as if in requital of the hospitality which he experienced, 
he seamed to compel himself, against his fixed nature, to enter into 
the society of those around him, especially when it assumed the 
grave, melancholy, or satirical cast, which best suited the temper of 
his own mind. Upon such occasions, the Zetlanders were 
universally of opinion that he must have had an excellent educa- 
tion, neglected only in one striking particular, namely, that Mr. 
Mertoun scarce knew the stem of a ship from the stern ; and in the 
management of a boat, a cow could not be more ignorant. It 
seemed astonishing such gross ignorance of the most necessary art 
of life (in the Zetland Isles at least) should subsist along with his 
accomplishments in other respects ; but so it was. 

Unless called forth in the manner we have mentioned, the habits 
of Basil Mertoun were retired and gloomy. From loud mirth he 
instantly fled ; and even the moderated cheerfulness of a friendly 
party, had the invariable effect of throwing him into deeper de- 
jection then even his usual demeanour indicated. 

Women are always particularly desirous of investigating mystery, 
and of alleviating melancholy, especially when these circumstances 
are united in a handsome man about the prime of life. It is 
|)ossible, therefore, that amongst the fair-haired and blue-eyed 
daughters of Thule this mysterious and pensive stranger might 
have found some one to take upon herself the task of consolation, 
had he shown any willingness to accept such kindly offices ; but, 
far from doing so, he seemed even to shun the presence of the sex, 
to which in our distresses, whether of mind or body, we generally 
apply for pity and comfort. 

To these pecuUarities Mr. Mertoun added another, which was par- 
ticularly disagreeable to his host and principal patron, Magnus 
Troil. This magnate of Zetland, descended by the father's side, as 
we have already said, from an ancient Norwegian family, by the 
marriage of its representative with a Danish lady, held the devout 
opinion that a cup of Geneva or Nantz was specific against all cares 


and afflictions whatever. These were remedies to which Mr. 
Mertoun never applied ; his drinlv was water, and water alone, and 
no persuasion or entreaties could induce him to taste any stronger 
beverage than was afforded by the pure spring. Now this Magnus 
Troil could not tolerate ; it was a defiance to the ancient northern 
laws of conviviality, which, for his own part, he had so rigidly 
observed, that although he was wont to assert that he had never in 
his life gone to bed drunk, (that is, in his own sense of the word,) 
it would have been impossible to prove that he had ever resigned 
himself to slumber in a state of actual and absolute sobriety. It 
may be therefore asked, What did this stranger bring into society 
to compensate the displeasure given by his austere and abstemious 
habits ? He had, in the first place, that manner and self-import- 
ance which mark a person of some consequence ; and although it 
was conjectured that he could not be rich, yet it was certainly 
known by his expenditure that neither was he absolutely poor. He 
had, besides, some powers of conversation, when, as we have already 
hinted, he chose to exert them, and his misanthropy or aversion to 
the business or intercourse of ordinary life, was often expressed in 
an antithetical manner, which passed for wit, when better was not 
to be had. Above all, Mr. Mertoun's secret seemed impenetrable, 
and his presence had all the interest jDf a riddle, which men love 
to read over and over, because they cannot find out the meaning 
of it. 

Notwithstanding these recommendations, Mertoun differed in so 
many material points from his host, that after he had been for some 
time a guest at his principal residence, Magnus Troil was agreeably 
surprised when, one evening after they had sat two hours in absolute 
silence, drinking brandy and water, — that is, Magnus drinking the 
alcohol, and Mertoun the element, — the guest asked his host's per- 
mission to occupy, as his tenant, this deserted mansion of Jarlshof, 
at the extremity of the territory called Dunrossness, and situated 
just beneath Sumburgh-Head. " I shall be handsomely rid of him," 
quoth Magnus to himself, " and his kill-joy visage will never again 
stop the bottle in its round. His departure will ruin me in lemons, 
howevet, for his mere look was quite sufficient to sour a whole 
ocean of punch." 

Yet the kind-hearted Zetlander generously and disinterestedly 
remonstrated with Mr. Mertoun on the solitude and inconveniences 
to which he was about to subject himself. " There were scarcely," 
he'said, "even the most necessary articles of furniture in the old 
house — there was no society within many miles — for provisions, the 
principal article of food would be sour sillocks, and his only com- 
pany gulls and gannets." 

i6 _ THE P[RATE. 

" My good friend," replied Mertoun, " if you could have named 
a circumstance which would render the residence more eligible to 
mc than any other, it is that there would be neither human luxury 
nor human society near the place of my retreat ; a shelter from the 
weather for my own head, and -for the boy's, is all I seek for. So 
name your rent, Mr. Troil, and let me be your tenant at Jarlshof. 

" Rent ? " answered the Zetlander ; " why, no great rent for an 
old house which no one has lived in since my mother's time— God 
rest her !— and as for shelter, the old walls are thick enough, and 
will bear many a bang yet. But, Heaven love yoa, Mr. Mertoun, 
think what you are purposing. For one of us to live at Jarlshof, 
were a wild scheme enough; but you, who are from another 
country, whether English, Scotch, or Irish, no one can tell " 

" Nor does it greatly matter," said Mertoun, somewhat abruptly. 

" Not a herring's scale," answered the Laird ; " only that 1 like 
you the better for being no Scot, as I trust you are not one. Hither 
they Jiave come like the clack-geese— every chamberlain has 
brought over a flock of his own name, and his own hatching, for 
what I know, and here they roost for ever— catch them returning 
to their own barren Highlands or Lowlands, when once they have 
tasted our Zetland beef, and seen our bonny voes and lochs. No, 
sir," (here Magnus proceeded with great animation, sippirig from 
time to time the half-diluted spirit, which at the same time animated 
his resentment against the intruders, and enabled him to endure 
the mortifying reflection which it suggested,)—" No, sir, the ancient 
days and the genuine manners of these Islands are no more ; for 
our ancient possessors, — our Patersons, our Feas, our Schlag- 
brenners, our Thorbiorns, have given place to GifFords, Scotts, 
Mouats, men whose names bespeak them or their ancestors 
strangers to the soil which we the Troils< have inhabited long 
before the days of Turf-Einar, who first taught these Isles the 
mystery of burning peat for fuel, and who has been handed down 
to a grateful posterity by a name which records the discovery." 

This was a subject upon which the potentate of Jarlshof was 
usually very diffuse, and Mertoun saw him enter upon it with 
pleasure, because he knew he should not be called upon to con- 
tribute any aid to the conversation, and might therefore indulge his 
own saturnine humour while the Norwegian Zetlander declaimed 
on the change of times and inhabitants. But just as Magnus had 
arrived at the melancholy conclusion, " how probable it was, that 
in another century scarce a merk — scarce even an ure of land, 
would be in the possession of the Norse inhabitants, the true 
Udallers* of Zetland," he recollected the circumstances of his guest, 
and stopped suddenly short. " I do not say all this," he added 


interrupting himself, " as if I were iinwilling that you should settle 
on my estate, Mr. Mertoun — But for Jarlshof— the place is a wild 
one — Come from where you will, I warrant you will say, like other 
travellers, you came from a better climate than ours, for so say you 
all. And yet you think of a retreat, which the very natives run 
away from. Will you not take your glass ? " — (This was to be con- 
sidered as interjectional,) — " then here's to you." 

" My good sir," answered Mertoun, " I am indifferent to climate ; 
if there is but air enough to fill my lungs, 1 care not if it be the 
breath of Arabia or of Lapland.'' 

" Air enough you may have," answered Magnus, " no lack of that 
— somewhat damp, strangers allege it to be, but we know a cor- 
rective for that — Here's to you, Mr. Mertoun — You must learn to 
do so, and to smoke a pipe ; and then, as you say, you will find the 
air of Zetland equal to that of Arabia. But have you seen 

The stranger intimated that he had not. 

" Then," replied Magnus, " you have no idea of your undertaking. 
If you think it a comfortable roadstead like this, with the house 
situated on the side of an inland voe,* that brings the herrings up 
to your door, you are mistaken, my heart. At Jarlshof you will see 
nought but the wild waves tumbling on the bare rocks, and the 
Roost of Sumburgh running at the rate of fifteen knots an-hour." 

" I shall see nothing at least of the current of human passions," 
replied Mertoun. 

" You will hear nothing but the clanging and screaming of scarts, 
sheer-waters, and seagulls, from daybreak till sunset." 

" I will compound, my friend," replied the stranger, "so that I 
do not hear the chattering of women's tongues." 

" Ah," said the Norman. " that is because you hear just now my 
little Minna and Brenda singing in the garden with your Mordaunt. 
Now, I would rather listen to their little voices, than the skylark 
which I once heard in Caithness, or the nightingale that I have 
read of — What will the girls do for want of their playmate Mor- 
daunt ? " 

" They will shift for themselves," answered Mertoun ; " younger 
or elder they will find playmates or dupes. — But the question is, 
Mr. Troil, will you let to me, as your tenant, this old mansion of 

" Gladly, since you make it your option to live in a spot so 
" And as for the rent ? " continued Mertoun. 
" The rent ? " replied Magnus ; " hum— why, you must have the 
bit oiplantie cruive* which they once called a garden, and a right 



in the scathold, and a sixpenny merk of land, that the tenants may- 
fish for you ;— eight lispunds* of butter, and eight shilhngs sterling 
yearly, is not too much ? " 

Mr. Mertoun agreed to terms so moderate, and from thence- 
forward resided chiefly at the solitary mansion which we have 
described in the beginning of this chapter, conforming not only 
without complaint, but, as it seemed, with a sullen pleasure, to all 
the privations which so wild and desolate a situation necessarily 
imposed on its inhabitant. 


'Tis not alone the scene — the man, Anselmo, 
The man finds sympathies in these wild wastes, 
And roughly tumbling seas, which fairer views 
And smoother waves deny him. 

Anciettt Drama. 

The few inhabitants of the township of Jarlshof had at first 
heard with alarm, that a person of rank superior to their own was 
come to reside in the ruinous tenement, which they still called the 
Castle. In those days (for the present times are greatly altered for 
the better) the presence of a superior, in such a situation, was 
almost certain to be attended with additional burdens and ex- 
actions, for which, under one pretext or another, feudal customs 
furnished a thousand apologies. By each of these, a part of the 
tenants' hard- won and precarious profits was diverted for the use of 
their powerful neighbour and superior, the tacksman, as he was 
called. But the sub-tenants speedily found that no oppression of 
this kind was to be apprehended at the hands of Basil Mertoun. 
His own means, whether large or small, were at least fully adequate 
to his expenses, which, so far as regarded his habits of life, were of 
the most frugal description. The luxuries of a few books, and some 
philosophicalinstruments, with which he was supplied from London 
as occasion offered, seemed to indicate a degree of wealth unusual 
in those islands ; but, on the other hand, the table and the accom- 
modations at Jarlshof, did not exceed what was maintained by a 
Zetland proprietor of the most inferior description. 

The tenants of the hamlet troubled themselves very little about 
the quality of their superior, as soon as they found that their situa- 
tion was rather to be mended than rendered worse by his presence ; 
and, once relieved from the apprehension of his tyrannizing over 


them, they laid their heads together to make the most of him by 
various petty tricks of overcharge and extortion, which for a while 
the stranger submitted to with the most philosophic indifference. 
An incident, however, occurred, which put his character in a new 
light, and effectually checked all futm-e efforts at extravagant im- 

A dispute arose in the kitchen of the Castle betwixt an old 
governante, who acted as housekeeper to Mr. Mertoun, and Sweyn 
Erickson, as good a Zetlander as ever rowed a boat to the haaf 
fishing ;* which dispute, as is usual in such cases, was maintained 
with such, increasing heat and vociferation as to reach the ears of 
the master, (as he was called,) who, secluded in a solitary turret, 
was deeply employed in examining the contents of a new package 
of books from London, which, after long expectation, had found its 
way to Hull, from thence by a whaling vessel to Lerwick, and so to 
Jarlshof. With more than the usual thrill of indignation which 
indolent people always feel when roused into action on some un- 
pleasant occasion, Mertoun descended to the scene of contest, and 
so suddenly, peremp'torily, and strictly, enquired into the cause of 
dispute, that the parties, notwithstanding every evasion which they 
attempted, became unable to disguise from him, that'their difference 
respected the several interests to which the honest governante, and 
no less honest fisherman, were respectively entitled, in an over- 
charge of about one hundred per cent, on a bargain of rock-cod, 
purchased by the former from the latter, for the use of the family 
at Jarlshof. 

When this was fairly ascertained and confessed, Mr. Mertoun 
stood looking upon the culprits with eyes in which the utmost scorn 
seemed to contend with awakening passion. " Hark you, ye old 
hag," said he at length to the housekeeper, " avoid my house this 
instant ! and know that I dismiss you, not for being a liar, a thief, 
and an ungrateful quean, — for these are qualities as proper to you 
as your name of woman, — but for daring, in my house, to scold 
above your breath. — And for you, you rascal, who suppose you may 
cheat a stranger as you yiwM. flinch* a whale, know that I am well 
acquainted with the rights which, by delegation from your master, 
Magnus Troil, I can exercise over you, if I will. Provoke me to a 
certain pitch, and you shall learn, to your cost, I can break your 
rest as easily as you can interrupt my leisure. I know the meaning 
of scat, and wattle, and kawkhen, and hagalef, and every other 
exaction, by which your lords, in ancient and modern days, have 
wrung your withers ; nor is there one of you that shall not rue the 
day that you could not be content with robbing me of my money, 
but must also break in on my leisure with your atrocious -northern 

C 2 


clamour, that rivals in discord the screaming of a flight of Arctic 

Nothing better occurred to Sweyn,in answer to this objurgation, 
than the preferring a humble request that his honour would be 
pleased to keep the cod-fish without payment, and say no more 
about the matter ; but by this time Mr. Mertoun had worked up 
his passions into an ungovernable rage, and with one hand he threw 
the money at the fisherman's head, while with the other he pelted 
him out of the apartment with his own fish, which he finally flung 
out of doors after him. 

There was so much of appalling and tyrannic fury in the 
stranger's manner on this occasion, that Sweyn neither stopped to 
collect the money nor take back his commodity, but fled at a pre- 
cipitate rate to the small hamlet, to tell his comrades that if they 
provoked Master Mertoun any farther, he would turn an absolute 
Pate Stewart* on their hand, and head and hang without either 
judgment or mercy. ^ 

Hither also came the discarded housekeeper, to consult with her 
neighbours and kindred (for she too was a native of the village) 
what she should do to regain the desirable situation from which 
she had been so suddenly expelled. The old Ranzellaar of the 
village, who had the voice most potential in the deliberations of 
the township, after hearing what had happened, pronounced that 
Sweyn Erickson had gone too far in raising the market upon Mr. 
Mertoun ; and that whatever pretext the tacksman might assume 
for thus giving way to his anger, the real grievance must have been 
the charging the rock cod-fish at a penny instead of a half-penny 
a-pound ; he therefore exhorted all the community never to raise 
their exactions in future beyond the proportion of threepence upon 
the shilling, at which rate their master at the Castle could not 
reasonably be expected to grumble, since, as he was disposed to do 
them no harm, it was reasonable to think that, in a moderate way, 
he had no objection to do them good. " And three upon twelve," 
said the experienced RanzeHaar, " is a decent and moderate profit, 
and will bring with it God's blessing and Saint Ronald's." 

Proceeding upon the tarifif thus judiciously recommended to 
them, the inhabitants of Jarlshof cheated Mertoun in future only 
to the moderate extent of twenty-five per cent. ; a rate to which all 
nabobs, army-contractors, speculators in the funds, and others, 
whom recent and rapid success has enabled to settle in the country 
upon a great scale, ought to submit, as very reasonable treatment 
at the hand of their rustic neighbours. Mertoun at least seemed 
of that opinion, for he gave himself no farther trouble upon the 
subject of his household expenses. 


The conscript fathers of Jarlshof, having settled their own 
matters, took next under tlieir consideration the case of Swertha, 
the banished matron who had been expelled from the Castle, 
whom, as an experienced and useful ally, they were highly desirous 
to restore to her office of housekeeper, should that be found pos- 
sible. But as their wisdom here failed them, Swertha, in despair, 
had recourse to the good offices of Mordaunt Mertoun, with whom 
she had acquired some favour by her knowledge in old Norwegian 
ballads, and dismal tales concerning the Trows or Drows, (the 
dwarfs of the Scalds,) with whom superstitious eld had peopled 
many a lonely cavern and brown dale in Dunrossness, as in every 
other district of Zetland. " Swertha," said the youth, " I can do 
but little for you, but you may do something for yourself. My 
father's passion resembles the fury of those ancient champions, 
those Berserkars, you sing songs about." 

"Ay, ay, fish of my heart," replied the old woman, with a 
pathetic whine ; " the Berserkars were champions who lived before 
the blessed days of Saint Olave, and who used to run like madmen 
on swords, and spears, and harpoons, and muskets, and snap them 
aU into pieces, as a finner* would go through a herring-net, and 
then, when the fury went off, they were as weak and unstable as 

" That's the very thing, Swertha," said Mordaunt. " Now, my 
father never likes to think of his passion after it is over, and is so 
much of a Berserkar, that, let him be desperate as he will to-day, 
he will not care about it to-morrow. Therefore, he has not filled 
up your place in the household at the Castle, and not a mouthful 
of warm food has been dressed there since you went away, and not 
a morsel of bread baked, but we have lived just upon whatever 
cold thing came to hand. Now, Swertha, I will be your warrant, 
that if you go boldly up to the Castle, and enter upon the discharge 
of your duties as usual, you will never hear a single word from 

Swertha hesitated at first to obey this bold counsel. She said, 
" to her thinking, Mr. Mertoun, when he was angry, looked more 
like a fiend than any Berserkar of them all ; that the fire flashed 
from his eyes, and the foam flew from his lips ; and tliat it would 
be a plain tempting of Providence to put herself again in such a 

But, on the encouragement which she received from the son, she 
determined at length once more to face the parent ; and, dressing 
herself in her ordinary household attire, for so Mordaunt particu- 
larly recommended, she slipped into the Castle, and presently 
resuming the various and numerous occupations which devolved on 


her, seemed as deeply engaged in household cares as if she had 
never been out of office. 

The first day of her return to her duty, Swertha made no appear- 
ance in presence of her master, but trusted that after his three 
days' diet on cold meat, a hot dish, dressed with the best of her 
simple skill, might introduce her favourably to his recollection. 
When Mordaunt had reported that his father had taken no notice 
of this change of diet, and when she herself observed that in 
passing and repassing him occasionally, her appearance produced 
no effect upon her singular master, she began to imagine that the 
whole affair had escaped Mr. Mertoun's memory, and was active in 
her duty as usual. Neither was she convinced of the contrary 
until one day, when, happening somewhat to elevate her tone in a 
dispute with the other maid-servant, her master, who at that time 
passed the place of contest, eyed her with a strong glance, and 
pronounced the single word. Remember / in a tone which taught 
Swertha the government of her tongue for many weeks after. 

If Mertoun was whimsical in his mode of governing his house- 
hold, he seemed no less so in his plan of educating his son. He 
showed the youth but few symptoms of parental affection ; yet, in 
his ordinary state of mind, the improvement of Mordaunt's educa- 
tion seemed to be the utmost object of his life. He had both 
books and information sufficient to discharge the task of tutor in 
the ordinary branches of knowledge ; and in this capacity was 
regular, calm, and strict, not to say severe, in exafcting from his 
pupil the attention necessary for his profiting. But in the perusal 
of history, to which their attention was frequently turned, as well 
as in the study of classic authors, there often occurred facts or sen- 
timents which produced an instant effect upon Mertoun's mind, 
and brought on him suddenly what Swertha, Sweyn, and even 
Mordaunt, came to distinguish by the name of his dark hour. He 
was aware, in the usual case, of its approach, and retreated to an 
inner apartment, into which he never permitted even Mordaunt to 
enter. Here he would abide in seclusion for days, and even weeks, 
only coming out at uncertain times, to take such food as they had 
taken care to leave within his reach, which he used in wonderfully 
small quantities. At other times, and especially during the winter 
solstice, when almost every person spends the gloomy time within 
doors in feasting and merriment, this unhappy man would wrap 
, himself in a dark-coloured sea-cloak, and wander out alono- the 
stormy beach, or upon the desolate heath, indulging his own 
gloomy and wayward reveries under the inclement sky, the rather 
that he was then most sure to wander unencountered and unob- 



As Mordaunt grew older, he learned to note the particular signs 
which preceded these fits of gloomy despondency, and to direct 
such precautions as might ensure his unfortunate parent from ill- 
timed interruption, (which had always the effect of driving him to 
fury,) while, at the same time, full provision was made for his sub- 
sistence. Mordaunt perceived that at such periods the melancholy 
fit of his father was greatly prolonged, if he chanced to present 
himself to his eyes while the dark hour was upon him. Out of 
respect, therefore, to his parent, as well as to indulge the love of 
active exercise and of amusement natural to his period of life, 
Mordaunt used often to absent himself altogether from the man- 
sion of Jarlshof, and even from the district, secure that his father, 
if the dark hour passed away in his absence, would be little 
inclined to enquire how his son had disposed of his leisure, so that 
he was sure he had not watched his own weak moments ; that 
being the subject on which he entertained the utmost jealousy. 

At such times, therefore, all the sources of amusement which 
the country afforded, were open to the younger Mertoun, who, in 
these intervals of his education, had an opportunity to give full 
scope to the energies of a bold, active, and daring character. He 
was often engaged with the youth of the hamlet in those desperate 
sports, to which the " dreadful trade of the samphire-gatherer " is 
like a walk upon level ground — often joined those midnight excur- 
sions upon the face of the giddy cliffs, to secure the eggs or the 
young of the sea-fowl ; and in these daring adventures displayed 
an address, presence of mind, and activity, which, in one so young, 
and not a native of the country, astonished the oldest fowlers.* 

At other times, Mordaunt accompanied Sweyn and other fisher- 
men in their long and perilous expeditions to the distant and deep 
sea, learning under their direction the management of the boat, in 
which they equal, or exceed, perhaps, any natives of the British 
empire. This exercise had charms for Mordaunt, independently of 
the fishing alone. 

At this time, the old Norwegian sagas were much remembered, 
and often rehearsed, by the fishermen, who still preserved among 
themselves the ancient Norse tongue, which was the speech of 
their forefathers. In the dark romance of those Scandinavian 
tales, lay much that was captivating to a youthful ear ; and the 
classic fables of antiquity were rivalled at least, if not excelled, in^ 
Mordaunt's opinion, by the strange legends of Berserkars, of Sea- 
kings, of dwarfs, giants, and, sorcerers, which he heard from the 
native Zetlanders. Often the scenes around him were assigned as 
the localities of the wild poems, which, half recited, half chanted 
by voices as hoarse, if not so loud, as the waves over which they 

inc/ fiKAiii. 

floated, pointed out the very bay on which they sailed as the scene 
of a bloody sea-fight ; the scarce-seen heap of stones that bristled 
over the projecting cape, as the dun, or castle, of some potent earl 
or noted pirate ; the distant and solitary grey stone on the lonely 
moor, as marking the grave of a hero ; the wild cavern, up which 
the sea rolled in heavy, broad, and unbroken billows, as the dwell- 
ing of some noted sorceress.* 

The ocean also had its mysteries, the effect of which was aided 
by the dim twilight, through which it was imperfectly seen for more 
than half the year. Its bottomless depths and secret caves con- 
tained, according to the account of Sweyn and others, skilled in 
legendary lore, such wonders as modern navigators reject with 
disdain. In the quiet moonlight bay, where the waves came 
rippling to the shore, upon a bed of smooth sand intermingled 
with shells, the mermaid was still seen to glide along the waters, 
^and, mingling her voice with the sighing breeze, was often heard 
to sing of subterranean wonders, or to chant prophecies of future 
events. The kraken, that hugest of living things, was still sup- 
posed to cumber the recesses of the Northern Ocean ; and often, 
when some fog-bank covered the sea at a distance, the eye of the 
experienced boatmen saw the horns o^f the monstrous leviathan 
welking and waving amidst the wreaths of mist, and bore away 
with all press of oar and sail, lest the sudden suction, occasioned 
by the sinking of the monstrous mass to the bottom, should drag 
within the grasp of its multifarious feelers his own frail skiff. The 
sea-snake was also known, which, arising out of the depths of 
ocean, stretches to the skies his enormous neck, covered with a 
mane like that of a war-horse, and with its broad glittering eyes, 
raised mast-head high, looks out, as it seems, for plunder or for 

Many prodigious stories of these marihe monsters, and of many 
others less known, were then universally received among the Zet- 
landers, whose descendants have not as yet by any means aban- 
doned faith in them.* 

Such legends are, indeed, everywhere current amongst the 
vulgar; but the imagination is far more powerfully affected by 
them on the deep and dangerous seas of the north, amidst preci- 
pices and headlands, many hundred feet in height,— amid perilous 
straits, and currents, and eddies,— long sunken reefs of rock, over 
which the vivid ocean foams and boils,— dark caverns, to whose 
extremities neither man nor skiff has ever ventured,— lonely, and 
often uninhabited isles, — and oceasionally the ruins of ancient 
northern fastnesses, dimly seen by the feeble light of the Arctic 
winter. To Mordaunt, who had much of romance in his dispo- 


sition, these superstitions formed a pleasing and interesting exer- 
cise of the imagination, while, half doubting, half inclined to 
believe, he listened to the tales chanted concerning these wonders 
of nature, and creatures of credulous belief, told in the rude but 
energetic language of the ancient Scalds. 

But there wanted not softer and lighter amusement, that might 
seem better suited to Mordaunt's age, than the wild tales and rude 
exercises which we have already mentioned. The season of 
winter, when, from the shortness of the daylight, labour becomes 
impossible, is in Zetland the time of revel, feasting, and merri- 
ment. Whatever the fisherman has been able to acquire during 
summer, was expended, and often wasted, in maintaining the 
mirth and hospitality of his hearth during this period ; while the 
landholders and gentlemen of the island gave double loose to their 
convivial and hospitable dispositions, thronged their houses with 
guests, and drove away the rigour of the season with jest, glee, and 
song, the dance, and the wine-cup. 

Amid the revels of this merry, though rigorous season, no youth 
added more spirit to the dance, or glee to the revel, than the young 
stranger, Mordaunt Mertoun. When his father's state of mind 
permitted, or indeed required, his absence, he wandered from 
house to house a welcome guest wherever he came, and lent his 
willing voice to the song, and his foot to the dance. A boat, or if 
the weather, as was often the case, permitted not that convenience, 
one of the numerous ponies, which, straying in hordes about the 
extensive moors, may be said to be at any man's command who 
can catch them, conveyed him from the mansion of one hospitable 
Zetlander to that of another. None excelled him in performing 
the warlike sword-dance, a species of amusement which had been 
derived from the habits of the ancient Norsemen. He could play 
upon the giie, and upon the common violin, the melancholy and 
pathetic tunes peculiar to the country; and with great spirit and 
execution could relieve their monotony with the livelier airs of the 
North of Scotland. When a party set forth as maskers, or, as 
they are called in Scotland, gtdzards, to visit some neighbouring 
Laird, or rich Udaller, it augured well of the expedition if Mor- 
daunt Mertoun could be prevailed upon to undertake the office of 
sktcdler, or leader of the band. Upon these occasions, full of fun 
and frolic, he led his retinue from house to house, bringing mirth 
where he went, and leaving regret when he departed. Mordaunt 
became thus generally known, and beloved as generally, through 
most of the houses composing the patriarchal community of the 
Main Isle ; but his visits were most frequently and most willingly 
paid at the mansion of his father's landlord and protector, Magnus 


It was not entirely the hearty and sincere welcome of the worthy 
old Magnate, nor the sense that he was in effect his father's patron, 
which occasioned these frequent visits. The hand of welcome was 
indeed received as eagerly as it was sincerely given, while the ancient 
Udaller, raising himself in his huge chair, whereof the inside was 
lined with well-dressed sealskins, and the outside composed of 
massive oak, carved by the rude graving-tool of some Hamburgh 
carpenter, shouted forth his welcome in a tone, which might, in 
ancient times, have hailed the return of loul, the highest festival of 
the Goths. There was metal yet more attractive, and younger 
hearts, whose welcome, if less loud, was as sincere as that of the 
jolly Udaller. But this is matter which ought not to be discussed 
at the conclusion of a chapter. 


" O, Bessy Bell and Mary Gray; 

They were twa bonnie lasses ; 
They biggit a house on yon burn-brae. 

And theekit it ower wi' rashes. 

Fair Bessy Bell I looed yestreen, 

And thought I ne'er could alter ; 
Biit Mary Gray's twa pawky een 

Have garr'd my fancy falter." 

Scots Song. 

We have already mentioned Minna and Brenda, the daughters 
of Magnus Troil. Their mother had been dead for many years, 
and they were now two beautiful girls, the eldest only eighteen, 
which might be a year or two younger than Mordaunt Mertoun, 
the second about seventeen. — They were the joy of their father's 
heart, and the light of his old eyes ; and although indulged to a 
degree which might have endangered his comfort and their own, 
they repaid his affection with a love, into which even blind indul- 
gence had not introduced slight regard, or feminine caprice. The 
difference of their tempers and of their complexions was singularly 
striking, although combined, as is usual, with a certain degree of 
family resemblance. 

The mother of these maidens had been a Scottish lady from the 
Highlands of Sutherland, the orphan of a noble chief, who, driven 
from his own country during the feuds of the seventeenth century, 


had found shelter in those peaceful islands, which, amidst poverty 
and seclusion, were thus far happy, that they remained unvexed 
by discord, and unstained by civil broil. The father (his name 
was Saint Clair) pined for his native glen, his feudal tower, his 
clansmen, and his fallen authority, and died not long after his 
arrival in Zetland. The beauty of his orphan daughter, despite 
her Scottish lineage, melted the stout heart of Magnus Troil. 
He sued and was listened to, and she became his bride ; but dying 
in the fifth year of their union, left him to mourn his brief period 
of domestic happiness. 

From her mother, Minna inherited the stately form and dark 
eyes, the raven locks and finely pencilled brows, which showed she 
was, on one side at least, a stranger to the blood of Thule. Her 
cheek, — 

" O call it fair, not pale ! " 

was so slightly and delicately tinged with the rose, that many 
thought the lily had an undue proportion in her complexion. But 
in that predominance of the paler flower, there was nothing sickly 
or languid ; it was the true natural colour of health, and corre- 
sponded in a peculiar degree with features, which seemed calcu- 
lated to express a contemplative and high-minded character. 
When Minna Troil heard a tale of woe or of injustice, it was then 
her blood rushed to her cheeks, and showed plainly how warm it 
beat, notwithstanding the generally serious, composed, and retiring 
disposition, which her countenance and demeanour seemed to 
exhibit. If strangers sometimes conceived that thefce fine features 
were clouded by melancholy, for which her age and situation could 
scarce have given occasion, they were soon satisfied, upon further 
acquaintance, that the placid, mild quietude of her disposition, 
and the mental energy of a character which was but little in- 
terested, in ordinary and trivial occurrences, was the real cause of 
her gravity ; and most men, when they knew that her melancholy 
had no ground in real sorrow, and was only the aspiration of a soul 
bent on more important objects than those by which she was sur- 
rounded, might have wished her whatever could add to her happi- 
ness, but could scarce have desired that, graceful as she was in her 
natural and unaffected seriousness, she should change that de- 
portment for one more gay. In short, notwithstanding our wish to 
have avoided that hackneyed simile of an angel, we cannot avoid 
saying there was something in the serious beauty of her aspect, in 
the measu«red, yet graceful ease of her motions, in the music of her 
voice, and the serene purity of her eye, that seemed as if Minna 
Troil belonged naturally to some higher and better sphere, and 


was only the chance visitant of a world that was not worthy of 

The scarcely less beautiful, equally lovely, and equally innocent 
Brenda, was of a complexion as differing from her sister, as they 
differed in character, taste, and expression. Her profuse locks 
were of that paly brown which receives from the passing sunbeam 
a tinge of gold, but darkens again when the ray has passed from it. 
Her eye, her mouth, the beautiful row of teeth, which in her inno- 
cent vivacity were frequently disclosed ; the fresh, yet not too 
bright glow of a healthy complexion, tinging a skin like the drifted 
snow, spoke her genuine Scandinavian descent. A fairy form, less 
tall than that of Minna, but still more finely moulded into 
symmetry — a careless, and almost childish lightness of step — an 
eye that seemed to look on every object with pleasure, from a 
natural and serene cheerfulness of disposition, attracted even more 
general admiration than the charms of her sister, though perhaps 
that which Minna did excite, might be of a more intense as well as 
more reverential character. 

The dispositions of these lovely sisters were not less different 
than their complexions. In the kindly affections, neither could be 
said to excel the other, so much were they attached to their father 
and to each other. But the cheerfulness of Brenda mixed itself 
with the every- day business of life, and seemed inexhaustible in its 
profusion. The less buoyant spirit of her sister appeared to bring 
to society a contented wish to be interested and pleased with what 
was going forward, but was rather placidly carried along with the 
stream of mirth and pleasure, than disposed to aid its progress by 
any efforts of her own. She endured mirth, rather than enjoyed 
it ; and the pleasures in which she most delighted, were those of a 
graver and more solitary cast. The knowledge which is derived 
from books was beyond her reach. Zetland afforded few opportu- 
nities, in those days, of studying the lessons, bequeathed 

" By dead men to their kind ; " 

and Magnus Troil, such as we have described him, was not a 
person within whose mansion the means of such knowledge were 
to be acquired. But the book of nature was before Minna, that 
noblest of volumes, where we are ever called to wonder and to 
admire, even when we cannot understand. The plants of those 
wild regions, the shells on the shores, and the long list of feathered 
clans which haunt their cliffs and eyries, were as well known to 
Minna Troil as to the most experienced fowlers. Her powers of 
observation were wonderful, and little interrupted by other tones of 



feeling. The information which she acquired by habits of patient 
attention, was indehbly riVeted in a naturally powerful memory. 
She had also a high feeling for the solitary and melancholy gran- 
deur of the scenes in which she was placed. The ocean, in all its 
varied forms of sublimity and terror — the tremendous cliffs that 
resound to the ceaseless roar of the billows, and the clang of the 
sea-fowl, had for Minna a charm in almost every state in which the 
changing seasons exhibited them. With the enthusiastic feelings 
proper to the romantic race from which her mother descended, 
the love of natural objects was to her a passion capable not only of 
occupying, but at times of agitating, her mind. Scenes upon which 
her sister looked with a sense of transient awe or emotion, which 
vanished on her return from witnessing them, continued long to fill 
Minna's imagination, not only in solitude, and in the silence of the 
night, but in the hours of society. So that sometimes when she 
sat like a beautiful statue, a present member of the domestic circle, 
her thoughts were far absent, wandering on the wild sea-shore, and 
among the yet wilder mountains of her native isles. And yet, when 
recalled to conversation, and mingling in it with interest, there were 
few to whom her friends were more indebted for enhancing its en- 
joyments ; and although something in her manners claimed defer- 
ence (notwithstanding her early youth) as well as affection, even 
her gay, lovely, and amiable sister was not more generally beloved 
than the more retired and pensive Minna. 

Indeed, the two lovely sisters were not only the delight of their 
friends, but the pride of those islands, where the inhabitants of a 
certain rank were blended, by the remoteness of their situation and 
the general hospitality of their habits, into one friendly community. 
A wandering poet and parcel-musician, who, after going through 
various fortunes, had returned to end his days as he could in his 
native islands, had celebrated the daughters of Magnus in a poem, 
which he entitled Night and Day ; and in his description of Minna, 
might almost be thought to have anticipated, though only in a rude 
outline, the exquisite lines of Lord Byron, — 

" She walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies ; 

And ,all that's best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes : 

Thus mellow'd to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies." 

Their father loved the maidens both so well, that it might be 
difficult to say which he loved best ; saving that, perchance, he 
liked his graver damsel better in the walk without doors, and his 


merry maiden better by the fireside ; that he more desired the 
society of Minna when he was sad, and that of Brenda when he 
was mirthful ; and, what was nearly the same thing, preferred 
Minna before noon, and Brenda after the glass had circulated in 
the evening. 

But it was still more extraordinary, that the affections of Mor- 
daunt Mertoun seemed to hover with the same impartiality as those 
of their father betwixt the two lovely sisters. From his boyhood, 
as we have noticed, he had been a frequent inmate of the residence 
of Magnus at Burgh-Westra, although it lay nearly twenty miles 
distant from Jarlshof The impassable character of the country 
betwixt these places, extending over hills covered with loose and 
quaking bog, and frequently intersected by the creeks or arms of 
the sea, which indent the island on either side, as well as by fresh- 
water streams and lakes, rendered the journey difficult, and even 
dangerous, in the dark season ; yet, as soon as the state of his 
father's mind warned him to absent himself, Mordaunt, at every risk, 
and under every difficulty, was pretty sure to be found the next 
day at Burgh-Westra, having achieved his journey in less time than 
would have been employed perhaps by the most active native. 

He was of course set down as a wooer of one of the daughters 
of Magnus, by the public of Zetland ; and when the old Udaller's 
great partiality to the youth was considered, nobody doubted that 
he might aspire to the hand of either of those distinguished beau- 
ties, with as large a share of islets, rocky moorland, and shore- 
fishings, as might be the fitting portion of a favoured child, and 
with the presumptive prospect of possessing half the domains of 
the ancient house of Troil, when their present owner should be no 
more. This seemed all a reasonable speculation, and, in theory at 
least, better constructed than many that are current through the 
world as unquestionable facts. But, alas ! all that sharpness of 
observation which could be applied to the conduct of the parties, 
failed to determine the main point, to which of the young persons, 
namely, the attentions of Mordaunt were peculiarly devoted. He 
seemed, in general, to treat them as an affectionate and attached 
brother might have treated two sisters, so equally dear to him that 
a breath would have turned the scale of affection. Or if at any 
time, which often happened, the one maiden appeared the more 
especial object of his attention, it seemed only to be because cir- 
cumstances called her peculiar talents and disposition into more 
particular and immediate exercise. 

Both the sisters were accomplished in the simple music of the 
north, and Mordaunt, who was their assistant, and sometimes their 
preceptor, when they were practising this delightful art, might be 


now seen assisting Minna in the acquisition of those wild, solemn 
and simple airs, to which scalds and harpers sung of old the deeds 
of heroes, and presently found equally active in teaching Brenda 
the more lively and complicated music, which their father's affec- 
tion caused to be brought from the English or Scottish capital for 
the use of his daughters. And while conversing with them, Mor- 
daunt, who mingled a strain of deep and ardent enthusiasm with 
the gay and ungovernable spirits of youth, was equally ready to 
enter into the wild and poetical visions of Minna, or into the lively 
and often humorous chat of her gayer sister. In short, so little did 
he seem to attach hirriself to either damsel exclusively, that he was 
sometimes heard to say, that Minna never looked so lovely, as 
when her lighthearted sister had induced her, for the time, to forget 
her habitual gravity ; or Brenda so interesting, as when she sat 
listening, a subdued and affected partaker of the deep pathos of her 
sister Minna. 

The public of the mainland were, therefore, to use the hunter's 
pnrase, at fault in their farther conclusions, and could but determine, 
after long vacillating betwixt the maidens, that the young man was 
positively to marry one of them, but which of the two could only 
be determined when his approaching manhood, or the interference 
of stout old Magnus, the father, should teach Master Mordaunt 
Mertoun to know his own mind. " It was a pretty thing, indeed," 
they usually concluded, " that he, no native born, and possessed of 
no visible means of subsistence that is known to any one, should 
presume to hesitate, or affect to have the power of selection and 
choice, betwixt the two most distinguished beauties of Zetland. If 
they were Magnus Troil, they would soon be at the bottom of the 
matter" — and S9 forth. All which remarks were only whispered, 
for the hasty disposition of the Udaller had too much of the old 
Norse fire about it to render it safe for any one to become an un- 
authorized intern) eddler with his family affairs ; and thus stood the 
relation of Mordaunt Mertoun to the family of Mr. Troil of Burgli- 
Westra, when the following incidents took place. 



This is no pilgrim's morning — yon grey mist 
Lies upon hill, and dale, and field, and forest, 
Like the dun wimple of a new-made widow ; 
And, by my faith, although my heart be soft, 
I'd rather hear that widow weep and sigh. 
And tell the virtues of the dear departed. 
Than, when the tempest sends his' voice abroad. 
Be subject to its fury. 

The Double Nuptials. 

The spring was far advanced, when, after a week spent in sport 
and festivity at Burgh- Westra, Mordaunt Mertoun bade adieu to 
the family, pleading the necessity of his return to Jarlshof. The 
proposal was combated by the maidens, and more decidedly by 
Magnus himself: He saw no occasion whatever for Mordaunt 
returning to Jarlshof. If his father desired to see him, which, by 
the way, Magnus did not believe, Mr. Mertoun had only to throw 
himself into the stern of Sweyn's boat, or betake himself to a 
pony, if he liked a land journey better, and he would see not only 
his son, but twenty folk besides, who would be most happy to find 
that he had not lost the use of his tongue entirely during his long 
solitude ; " although I must own," added the worthy Udaller, " that 
when he lived among us, nobody ever made less use of it." 

Mordaunt acquiesced both in what respected his father's taci- 
turnity, and his dislike to general society ; but suggested, at the 
same time, that the first circumstance rendered his own immediate 
return more necessary, as he was the usual channel of communica- 
tion betwixt his father and others ; and that the second corrobo- 
rated the same necessity, since Mr. Mertoun's having no other 
society whatever, seemed a weighty reason why his son's should be 
restored to him without loss of time. As to his father's coming to 
Burgh-Westra, "they might as, well," he said, "expect to see Sum- 
burgh Cape come thither." 

" And that would be a cumbrous guest," said Magnus. " But 
you will stop for our dinner to-day ? There are the families of 
Muness, Ouendale, Thorslivoe, and I know not who else, are 
expected ; and, besides the thirty that were in house this 
blessed night, we shall have as many more as chamber and bower, 
and barn and boat-house, can furnish with beds, or with barley- 
straw, — and you will leave all this beliind you ! " 

" And the blithe dance at night," added Brenda, in a tone betwixt 

TtlE PIRATE. 33 

reproach and vexation ; " and the young men from the Isle of Paba 
that are to dance the' sword dance, whom shall we find to match 
them, for the honour of the Main ? " 

" There is many a merry dancer on the mainland, Brenda," 
replied Mordaunt, " even if I should never rise on tiptoe again. 
And where good dancers are found, Brenda Troil will always find 
the best partner. I must trip it to-night through the Wastes of 

" Do not say so, Mordaunt," said Minna, who, during this con- 
versation, had been looking from the window something anxiously ; 
" go not, to-day at least, through the Wastes of, Dunrossness.' 

" And why not to-day, Minna," said Mordaunt, laughing, " any 
more than to-morrow ? " 

" O, the morning mist lies heavy upon yonder chain of isles, nor 
has it permitted us since daybreak even a single glimpse of Fitful- 
head, the lofty cape that concludes yon splendid range of moun- 
tains. The fowl are winging their way to the shore, and the shell- 
drake seems, through the mist, as large as the scart.* See, 
the very sheerwaters and bonxies are making to the cliffs for 

" And they will ride out a gale against a king's frigate," said her 
father ; " there is foul weather when they cut and run." 

" Stay, then, with us," said Minna to her friend ; "the storm will 
be dreadful, yet it will be grand to see it from Burgh- Westra, if we 
have no friend exposed to its fury. See, the air is close and sultry, 
though the season is yet so early, and the day so calm, that not a 
windlestraw moves on the heath. Stay with us, Mordaunt ; the 
storm which these signs announce will be a dreadful one." 

" I must be gone the sooner," was the conclusion of Mordaunt, 
who could not deny the signs, which had not escaped his own 
quick observation. " If the storm be too fierce, I will abide for the 
night at Stourburgh.'' 

" What ! " said Magnus ; " will you leave us for the new cham- 
berlain's new Scotch tacksman, who is to teach all us Zetland 
savages new ways ? Take your own gate, my lad, if that is the 
song you sing." 

" Nay," said Mordaunt ; " I had only some curio sity to see ihe 
new inlplements he has brought." 

" Ay, ay, ferlies make fools fain. I would like to know if his new 
plough will bear against a Zetland rock ? " answered Magnus. 

" I must not pass Stourburgh on the' journey," said the youth, 
deferring to his patron's prejudice against innovation, "if this 
boding weather bring on tempest ; but if it only break in rain, as 
js most probable, I am not likely to be melted in the wetting." 


34 THE t'IRAl'fi. 

« It will not soften into rain alone," said Minna ; " see liow mucli 
heavier the clouds fall every moment, and see these weather-gaws 
that streak the lead-coloured mass with partial gleams of faded red 
and purple." 

" I see them all," said Mordaunt ; "but they only tell me I have 
no time to tarry here. Adieu, Minna ; I will send you the eagle's 
feathers, if an eagle can be found on Fair-isle or Foulah. And 
fare thee well, my pretty Brenda, and keep a thought forme, should 
the Paba men dance ever so well." 

" Take care of yourself, since go you will," said both sisters, 

Old Magnus scolded them formally for supposing there was any 
danger to an active young fellow from a spring gale, whether by 
sea or land ; yet ended by giving his own caution also to Mordaunt, 
advising him seriously to delay his journey, or at least to stop at 
Stourburgh. " For," said he, " second thoughts are best ; and as 
this Scottishman's howf lies right under your lee, why, take any 
port in a storm. But do not be assured to find the door on latch, 
let the^torm blow ever so hard ; there are such matters as bolts 
and bars in Scotland, though, thanks to Saint Ronald, they are 
unknown here, save that great lock on the old Castle of Scallo- 
way, that all men run to see — may be they make part of this 
man's improvements. But go, Mordaunt, since go you will. You 
should drink a stirrup-cup now, were you three years older, but 
boys should never drink, excepting after dinner ; I will drink it 
for you, that good customs may not be broken, or bad luck come 
of it. Here is your bonally, my lad." And so saying, he quaffed 
a rummer glass of brandy with as much impbnity as if ' it had 
been spring-water. Thvis regretted and cautioned on all hands, 
Mordaunt took leave of the hospitable household, and looking 
back at the comforts with which it was surrounded, and the 
dense smoke that rolled upwards from its chimneys, he first re- 
collected the guestless and solitary desolation of Jarlshof, then 
compared with the sullen and moody melancholy of his father's 
temper the warm kindness of those whom he was leaving, and 
could not refrain from a sigh at the thoughts which forced them- 
selves on his imagination. 

The signs of the tempest did not dishonour the predictions of 
Minna. Mordaunt had not advanced three hours on his journey, 
before the wind, which had been so deadly still in the morning, 
began at first to wail and sigh, as if bemoaning beforehand the 
evils which it might perpetrate in its fury, like a madman in the 
gloomy state of dejection which precedes his fit of violence ; then 
gradually increasing, the gale howled, raged, and roared, with the 

THE PiRATfi. ^5 

■full fury of a northern storm. It was accompanied by showers ot 
rain mixed witli hail, that dashed with the most unrelenting rage 
against the hills and rocks with which the traveller was surrounded, 
distracting his attention, in spite of his utmost exertions, and ren- 
dering it very difficult for him to keep the direction of his journey 
in a country where there is neither road, nor even the slightest 
track to direct the steps of the wanderer, and where he is often 
interrupted by brooks as well as large pools of water, lakes, and 
lagoons. All these inland waters were now lashed into sheets of 
tumbling foam, much of which, carried off by the fury of the whirl- 
wind, was mingled with the gale, and transported far from the 
waves of which it had lately made a part ; while the salt relish of 
the drift which was pelted against his face, showed Mordaunt that 
the spray of the more distant ocean, disturbed to frenzy by the 
storm, was mingled with that of the inland lakes and streams. 

Amidst this hideous combustion of the elements, Mordaunt 
Mertoun struggled forward as one to whom such elemental war was 
familiar, and who regarded the exertions which it required to with- 
stand its fury, but as a mark of resolution and manhood. He felt 
even, as happens usually to those who endure great hardships, that 
the exertion necessary to subdue them, is in itself a kind of elevat- 
ing triumph. To see and distinguish his path when the cattle were 
driven from the hill, and the very fowls from the firmament, was 
but the stronger proof of his own superiority. " They shall not 
hear of me at Burgh-Westra," said he to himself, " as they heard of 
old doited Ringan Ewenson's boat, that foundered betwixt road- 
stead and key. I am more of a cragsman than to mind fii'e or 
water, wave by sea, or quagmire by land." Thus he struggled on, 
buffeting with the storm, supplying the want of the usual signs by 
which travellers directed their progress, (for rock, mountain, and 
headland, were shrouded in mist and darkness,) by the instinctive 
sagacity with which long acquaintance with these wilds had taught 
him to mark every minute object, which could serve in such circum- 
stances to regulate his course. Thus, we repeat, he struggled on- 
ward, occasionally standing still, or even lying down, when the gust 
was most impetuous ; making way against it when it was some- 
what lulled, by a rapid and bold advance even in its very current ; 
or, when this was impossible, by a movement resembling that of a 
Vessel working to windward by short tacks, but never yielding one 
inch of the way which be had fought so hard to gain. 

Yet, notwithstanding Mordaunt's experience and resolution, his 
situation was sufficiently uncomfortable, and even precarious ; not 
because his sailor's jacket and trousers, the common dress of young 
tnen through these isles when on a journey, were thoroughly wet^ 


for that might have taken place within the same brief time, in any 
ordinary day, in this watery climate ; but the real danger was, that, 
notwithstanding his utmost exertions, he made very slow way 
through -brooks that were sending their waters all abroad, through 
morasses drowned in double deluges of moisture, which rendered 
all the ordinary passes more than usually dangerous, andYepeatedly 
obliged the traveller to perform a considerable circuit, which in the 
usual case was unnecessary. Thus repeatedly baffled, notwith- 
standing his youth and strength, Mordaunt, after maintaining a 
dogged conflict with wind, rain, and the fatigue of a prolonged 
journey, was truly happy, when, not without having been more 
than once mistaken in his road, he at length found himself within 
sight of the house of Stourburgh, or Harfra ; for the names were 
indifferently given to the residence of Mr. Triptolemus Yellowley, 
who was the chosen missionary of the Chamberlain of Orkney and 
Zetland, a speculative person, who designed, through the medium 
of -Triptolemus, to introduce into the Ultima Thule of the Romans, 
a spirit of improvement, which at that early period was scarce 
known to exist in Scotland itself. 

At length, and with much difficulty, Mordaunt reached the house 
of this worthy agriculturist, the only refuge from the relentless 
storm which he could hope to meet with for several miles ; and 
going straight to the door, with the most undoubting confidence of 
instant admission, he was not a little surprised to find it not merely 
latched, which the weather might excuse, but even bolted, a thing 
which, as Magnus Troil has already intimated, was almost unknown 
in the Archipelago. To knock, to call, and finally to batter the 
door with staff and stones, were the natural resources of the youth, 
who was rendered alike impatient by the pelting of the stomi, and 
by encountering such most unexpected and unusual obstacles to 
instant admission. As he was suffered, however, for many minutes 
to exhaust his impatience in noise and clamour, without receiving 
any reply we will employ them in informing the reader who 
Triptolemus Yellowley was, and how he came by a name so 

Old Jasper Yellowley, the father of Triptolemus, (though born at 
the foot of Roseberry-Topping,) had been come over by a certain 
noble Scottish Earl, who, proving too far north for canny York- 
shire, had persuaded him to accept of a farm in the Mearns, where, 
it is unnecessary to add, he found matters very different from what 
he had expected. It was in vain that the stout farmer set manfully 
to work, to counterbalance, by superior skill, the inconvenienced 
arising from a cold soil and a weeping climate. These might havfi 
been probably overcome ; but his neighbourhood to the Grampians 


exposed him eternally to that species of visitation from the plaided 
gentry, who dwelt within their skirts, which made young Nerval a 
warrior and a hero, but only converted Jasper Yellowley into a 
poor man. This was, indeed, balanced in some sort by the im- 
pression which his ruddy cheek and robust form had the fortune 
to make upon Miss Barbara Clinkscale, daughter to the umquhile, 
and sister to the then existing, Clinkscale of that ilk. 

This was thought a horrid and unnatural union in the neighbour- 
hood, considering that the house of Clinkscale had at least as 
great a share of Scottish pride as of Scottish parsimony, and was 
amply endowed with both. But Miss Babie had her handsome 
fortune of two thousand marks at her own disposal, was a woman 
of spirit who had been major and siti juris, (as the writer who 
drew the contract assured her,) for full twenty years ; so she set 
consequences and commentaries alike at defiance, and wedded the 
hearty Yorkshire yeoman. Her brother and her more wealthy 
kinsmen drew off in disgust, and almost disowned their degraded 
relative. But the house of Clinkscale was allied (like every other 
family in Scotland at the time) to a set of relations who were not so 
nice — tenth and sixteenth cousins, who not only acknowledged their 
kinswoman Babie after her marriage with Yellowley, but even con- 
descended to eat beans and bacon (though the latter was then the 
abomination of the Scotch as much as of the Jews) with her 
husband, and would have willingly cemented the friendship by 
borrowing a little cash from him, had not his good lady (who 
understood trap as well as any woman in the Mearns) put a nega- 
tive on this advance to intimacy. Indeed she knew how to make 
young Deilbelicket, old Dougald Baresword, the Laird of Bandy- 
brawl, and others, pay for the hospitality which she did not think 
proper to deny them, by rendering them useful in her negotiations 
with the lighthanded lads beyond the Cairn, who, finding their late 
object of plunder was now allied to " kend folks, and owned by 
them at kirk and market," became satisfied, on a moderate yearly 
composition, to desist from their depredations. 

This eminent success reconciled Jasper to the dominion which 
his wife began to assume over him ; and which was much confirmed 
by her proving to be — let me see — what is the prettiest mode of 
expressing it .■' — in the family vi^ay. On this occasion, Mrs. Yellowley 
had a remarkable dream, as is the usual practice of teeming mothers 
previous to thebirth of an illustrious offspring. She " wasa-dreamed," 
as her husband expressed it, that she was safely delivered of a plough, 
drawn by three yoke of Angus-shire oxen ; and being a mighty in- 
vestigator into such portents, she sat herself down with her gossips, 
to consider what the thing might mean. Honest Jasper ventured^ 


with much hesitation,to intimate his own opinion,that the vision had 
reference rather to things past than things future, and might have 
been occasioned by his wife's nerves having been ahttle startled by 
■meeting in the loan above the house his own great plough with the 
six oxen, which were the pride of his heart. But the good cummers''' 
raised such a hue and cry against this exposition, that Jasper was 
fain to put his fingers in his ears, and to run out of the apartment. 

" Hear to him," said an old whigamore carline— " hear to him, 
wi' his owsen, that are as an idol to him, even as the calf of 
Bethel ! Na, na— it's nae pleugh of the flesh that the bonny lad- 
bairn— for a lad it sail be— sail e'er striddle between the stilts o'— 
it's the pleugh of the spirit— and I trust mysell to see him wag the 
head o' him in a pu'pit ; or, what's better, on a hill-side." 

" Now the deil's in your whiggery," said the old Lady Glenpros- 
ing ; " wad ye hae our cummer's bonny lad-bairn wag the head aff 
his shouthers like your godly Mess James Guthrie, that ye hald such 
a clavering about ? — Na, na, he sail walk a mair siccar path, and 
be a dainty curate — and say he should live to be a bishop, what t;he 
waur wad he be ? " 

The gauntlet thus fairly flung down by one sibyl, was caught up 
by another, and the controversy between presbytery and episcopacy 
raged, roared, or rather screamed, a round of cinnamon-water serv- 
ing only like oil to the flame, till Jasper entered with the plough- 
staff ; and by the awe of his presence, and the shame of mis- 
behaving " before the stranger man," imposed some conditions of 
silence upon the disputants. 

I do not know whether it was impatience to give to the light a 
being destined to such high and doubtful fates, or whether poor 
Dame Yellowley was rather frightened at the hurly-burly which had . 
taken place in her presence, but she was taken suddenly ill ; and, 
contrary to the formula in such cases used and provided, was soon 
reported to be " a good deal worse than was to be expected." She 
took the opportunity (having still all her wits about her) to extract 
from her sympathetic husband two promises ; first, that he would 
christen the child, whose birth was like to cost her so dear, by a 
name indicative of the vision with which she had been favoured ; 
and next, that he would educate him for the ministry. The canny 
Yorkshireman, thinking that she had a good title at present to 
dictate in such matters, subscribed to all she required. A man- 
child was accordingly born under these conditions, but the state of 
the mother did not permit her for many days to enquire how far 
they had been complied with. When she was in some degree con- 
valescent, she was informed, that as it was thought fit the child 
should be immediately christened, it had received the name of 


Triptolemus ; the Curate, who was a man of some classical skill, 
conceiving that this epithet contained a handsome and classical 
allusion to the visionary plough, with its triple yoke of oxen. Mrs. 
Yelkwley was not much delighted with the manner in which her 
request had been complied with ; but grumbling being to as little 
purpose as in the celebrated case of Tristram Shandy, she e'en sat 
down contented with the heathenish name, and endeavoured to 
counteiact the effects it might produce upon the taste and feelmgs 
of the nominee, by such an education as might put him above the 
slightest thought of sacks, coulters, stilts, mould boards, or any 
thing comected with the servile drudgery of the plough. 

Jasper, sage Yorkshireman, smiled slyly in his sleeve, conceiving 
that young Trippie was likely to prove a chip of the old block, and 
would ratier take after the jolly Yorkshire yeoman, than the gentle 
but somevhat aigre blood of the house of Clinkscale. He re- 
marked, with suppressed glee, that the tune which best answered 
the purposs of a lullaby was the " Ploughman's Whistle," and the 
first words the infant learned to stammer were the names of the 
oxen ; moreover, that the " bern '' preferred home-brewed ale to 
Scotch twopenny, and never quitted hold of the tankard with so 
much reluctance as when there had been, by some manoeuvre of 
Jasper's own device, a double straik of malt allowed to the brew- 
ing, above that which was sanctioned by the most liberal recipe, of 
which his dame's household thrift admitted. Besides this, when no 
other means could be fallen upon to divert an occasional fit of 
squallng, his father observed that Trip could be always silenced 
by jingling a bridle at his ear. From all which symptoms he 
used ti swear in private, that tlie boy would prove true Yorkshire, 
and mither and mother's kin would have small share of him. 

Meaiwhile, and within a year after the birth of Triptolemus, 
Mrs. Ydlowley bore a daughter, named after herself Barbara, who, 
even injarliest infancy, exhibited the pinched nose and thin lips 
by whia the Clinkscale family were distinguished amongst the 
inhabitaits of the Mearns ; and as her childhood advanced, the 
readines with, which she seized, and the tenacity wherewith she 
detainedjthe playthings of Triptolemus, besides a desire to bite, 
pinch, aid scratch, on slight, or no provocation, were all considered 
by attentire observers as proofs, that Miss Babie would prove " her 
mother oer again." Malicious people did not stick to say, that 
the acrimmy of the Clinkscale blood had not, on this occasion, 
been coold and sweetened by that of Old England ; that young 
Deilbelicfet was much about the house, and they could npt but 
think it dd that Mrs. Yellowley, who, as the whole world knew, 
gave notling for nothing, should be so uncommonly attentive to 


heap the trencher, and to fill the caup, of an idle blackguard ne'^- 
do-weel. But when folk had once looked upon the austere and 
awfully virtuous countenance of Mrs. Yellowley, they did full 
justice to her propriety of conduct, and DeilbeUcket's delicacy of 
taste. _ /_ 

Meantime young Triptolemus, having received such instructions 
as the Curate could give him, (for though Dame Yellowley ac^hered 
to the persecuted remnant, her jolly husband, edified by the black 
gown and prayer-book, still conformed to the church as 5y law 
estabUshed,) was, in due process of time, sent to Saint Ane^ews to 
prosecute his studies. He went, it is true ; but with an ey^' turned 
back with sad remembrances on his father's plough, his father's 
pancakes, and his father's ale, for which the small-be^r of the 
college, commonly there termed "thorough-go-nimble," fu/nished a 
poor substitute. Yet he advanced in his learning, beiilg found, 
however, to show a particular favour to such authors of antiquity 
as had made the improvement of the soil the object of their re- 
searches. He endured the Bucolics of Virgil — the Georgics he had 
by heart — but the .(Eneid he could not away with ; aijd he was 
particularly severe upon the celebrated line expressing a charge of 
cavalry, because, as he understood the word putrem* lie ojined 
that the combatants, in their inconsiderate ardour, galloped o^er a 
new-manured ploughed field. Cato, the Roman Censor, wal his 
favourite among classical heroes and philosophers, not on ac/ount 
of the strictness of his morals, but because of his treatise, le Re 
Bustica. He had ever in his mouth the phrase of Cicerolyam 
neminem antepones Catoni. He thought well of Palladius, aid of 
Terentius Varro, but Columella was his pocket -companion! To 
these ancient worthies, he added the more modern Tusser, lirtlib, 
and other writers on rural economics, not forgetting the liiubra- 
tions of the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, and such of thepetter- 
informed Philomaths, who, instead of loading their almanaccs with 
vain predictions of political events, pretended to see wh^ seeds 
would grow and what would not, and direct the attention ?f their 
readers to that course of cultivation from which the prodi^tion of 
good crops may be safely predicted ; modest sages, in fte, who, 
careless of the rise and downfall of empires, content tlilmselves 
with pointing out the fit seasons to reap and sow, with a air guess 
at the weather which each month will be likely to presen ; as, for 
example, that if Heaven pleases, we shall have snow irijanuary, 
and the author will stake his reputation that July provis, on the 
whole, a month ot sunshine. Now, although the Recto| of Saint 
Leonard's was greatly pleased, in general, with the quiet,iaborious, 
and studious bent of Triptolemus Yellowley, and deemd him, in 


SO far, worthy of a name of four syllables having a Latin termina- 
tion, yet he relished not, by any means, his exclusive attention to 
his favourite authors. It savoured of the earth, he said, if not of 
something worse, to have a man's mind always grovelling in mould, 
stercorated or unstercorated ; and he pointed out, but in vain, 
history, and poetry, and divinity, as more elevating subjects of 
occupation. Triptclemus Yellowley was obstinate in his own 
course : Of the battle of Pharsalia, he thought not as it affected 
the freedom of the world, but dwelt on the rich crop which the 
Emathian fields were likely to produce the next season. In ver- 
nacular poetry, Triptolemus could scarce be prevailed upon to read 
a single couplet, excepting old Tusser, as aforesaid, whose Hun- 
dred Points of Good Husbandry he had got by heart ; and except- 
ing also Piers Ploughman's Vision, which, charmed with the title, 
he bought with avidity from a packman, but after reading the two 
first pages, flung it into the fire as an impudent and misnamed 
political libel. As to divinity, he summed that matter up by re- 
minding his instructors, that to labour the earth and win his bread 
with the toil of his body and sweat of his brow, was the lot imposed 
upon fallen man ; and, for his part, he was resolved to discharge, 
to the best of his abilities, a task so obviously necessary to exist- 
ence, leaving others to speculate as much as they would, upon the 
more recondite mysteries of theology. 

With a spirit so much narrowed and limited to the concerns of 
rural life, it may be doubted whether the proficiency of Triptolemus 
in learning, or the use he was like to make of his acquisitions, 
would have much gratified the ambitious hope of his affectionate 
mother. It is true, he expressed no reluctance to embrace the 
profession of a clergyman, which suited well enough with the 
habitual personal indolence which sometimes attaches to specula- 
tive dispositions. He had views, to speak plainly, (I wish they 
were peculiar to himself,) of cultivating the glebe six days in the 
week, preaching on the seventh with due regularity, and dining 
with some fat franklin or country laird, with whom he could smoke 
a pipe and drink a tankard after dinner, and mix in secret con- 
ference on the exhaustless subject. 

Quid faciat tetas segetes. 

Now, this plan, besides that it indicated nothing of what was then 
called the root of the matter, implied necessarily the possession of 
a manse ; and the possession of a manse inferred compliance with 
the doctrines of prelacy, and other enormities of the time. There 
was some question how far manse and glebe, stipend, both victual 


and money, might have outbalanced the good lady's predisposition 
towards Presbytery ; but her zeal was not put to so severe a trial. She 
died before her son had completed his studies, leaving herafflicted 
spouse just as disconsolate as was to be expected. The first act of 
old Jasper's undivided a.dministration was to recall his son from 
Saint Andrews, in order to obtain his assistance in his domestic 
labours. And here it might have been supposed that our Tripto- 
lemus, summoned to carry into practice what he had so fondly 
studied in theor/, must have been, to use a simile which he would 
have thought lively, lilce a cow entering upon a clover park. Alas, 
mistaken thoughts, and decsitfiil hopes of mankind ! 

A laughing philosopher, the Democritus of our day, once, in a 
moral lecture, compared human life to a table pierced with a 
number of holes, each of which has a pin made exactly to fit it, but 
which pins being stuck in hastily, and without selection, chance 
leads inevitably to the most awkward mistakes. " For how often 
do we see," the orator pathetically concluded, — " how often, I say, 
do we see the round man stuck into the three-cornered hole ! " 
This new illustration of the vagaries of fortune set every one pre- 
sent into convulsions of laughter, excepting one fat alderman, who 
seemed to make the case his own, and insisted that it was no jesting 
matter. To take up the simile, however, which is an excellent one, 
it is plain that Triptolemus Yellowley had been shaken out of the 
bag at least a hundred years too soon. If he had come on the 
stage in our own time, that is, if he had flourished at any time within 
these thirty or forty years, he could not have missed to have held 
the office of vice-president of some eminent agricultural society, 
and to have transacted all the business thereof under the auspices 
of some noble duke or lord, who, as the matter might happen, either 
knew, or did not know, the difference betwixt a horse and a cart, 
and a cart-horse. He could not have missed such preferment, for 
he was exceedingly learned in those particulars, which, being of no 
consequence in actual practice, go, of course, a great way to con- 
stitute the character of a connoisseur in any art, and especially in 
agriculture. But, alas ! Triptolemus Yellowley had, as we already 
have hinted, come into the world at least a century too soon ; for, 
instead of sitting in an arm-chair, with a hammer in his hand, and 
a bumper of port before him, giving forth the toast,—" To breeding, 
in all its branches," his father planted him betwixt the stilts of a 
plough, and invited him to guide the oxen, on whose beauties he 
would, in our day, have descanted, and whose rumps he would not 
have goaded, but have carved. Old Jasper complained, that 
although no one talked so well of common and several, wheat and 
rape, fallow and lea, as his learned spn, (whom he Jil'wjiys called 


Tolimus,) yet, " dang it," added tha Seneca, " nought thrives \vi' 
un — nought thrives \vi' un ? " It was still worse, when Jasper, 
becoming frail and ancient, was obliged, as happened in the course 
of a few years, gradually to yield up the reins of government to the 
academical neophyte. 

As if Nature had meant him a spite, he had got one of the dourest 
and most intractable farms in Mearns, to try conclusions withal, a 
place which seemed to yield everything but what the agriculturist 
wanted ; for there were plenty of thistles, which indicates dryland ; 
and store of fern, which is said to intimate deep land ; and nettles, 
which show where lime hath been applied ; and deep furrows in the 
most unlikely spots, which intimated that it had been cultivated in 
former days by the Peghts, as popular tradition bore. There was 
also enough of stones to keep the ground wanii, according to the 
creed of some farmers, and great abundance of springs to render it 
cool and sappy, according to the theory of others. It was in vain 
that, acting alternately on these opinions, poor Triptolemus endea- 
voured to avail himself of the supposed capabilities of the soil. No 
kind of butter that might be churned could be made to stick upon 
his own bread, any more than on that of poor Tusser, whose Hun- 
dred Points of Good Husbandry, so useful to others of his day, 
were never to himself worth as many pennies.* 

In fact, excepting an hundred acres of infield, to which old 
Jasper had early seen the necessity of limiting his labours, there 
was not a corner of the farm fit for any thing but to break plough- 
graith, and kill cattle. And then, as for the part which was really 
tilled with some profit, the expense of the farming establishment of 
Triptolemus, and his disposition to experiment, soon got rid of any 
good arising from the cultivation of it. " The carles and the cart- 
avers," he confessed, with a sigh, speaking of his farm-servants and 
horses, "make it all, and the carles and cart-avers eat it all;" a 
conclusion which might sum up the year-book of many a gentleman 

Matters would have soon been brought to a close with Tripto- 
lemus in the present day. He would have got a bank-credit, 
manceuvred with wind-bills, dashed out upon a large scale, and 
soon have seen his crop and stock sequestered by the Sheriff; but 
in those days a man could not ruin himself so easily. The whole 
Scottish tenantry stood upon the same level flat of poverty, so that 
it was extremely difficult to find any vantage ground, by climbing 
up to which a man might have an opportunity of actually breaking 
his neck with some dclat. They were pretty much in the situation 
of people, who, being totally without credit, may indeed suffer from 
indigence, but cannot possibly become bankrupt. Besides, not;- 


withstanding the failure of Triptolemus's projects, there was to be 
balanced against the expenditure which they occasioned, all the 
savings which the extreme economy of his sister Barbara could 
effect ; and in tButh "her exertions were wonderful. She might have 
realized, if any one could, the idea of the learned philosopher, who 
pronounced that sleeping was a fancy, and eating but a habit, and 
who appeared to the world to have renounced both, until it was 
unhappily discovered that he had an intrigue with the cook-maid 
of the family, who indemnified him for his privations by giving hira 
private entree to the pantry, and to a share of her own couch. But 
no such deceptions were practised by Barbara Yellowley. She was 
up early, .and down late, and seemed, to her over-watched and 
over-tasked maidens, to be as wakerife as the cat herself Then, 
for eating, it appeared that the air was a banquet to her, and she 
would fain have made it so to her retinue. Her b)fother, who, 
besides being lazy in his person, was somewhat luxurious in his 
appetite, would willingly now and then have tasted a mouthful of 
animal food, were it but to know how his sheep were fed off ; but a 
proposal to eat a child could not have startled Mistress Barbara 
more ; and, being of a compliant and easy disposition, Triptolemus 
reconciled himself to the necessity of a perpetual Lent, too happy 
when he could get a scrap of butter to his oaten cake, or (as they 
lived on the banks of the Esk) escape the daily necessity of eating 
salmon, whether in or out of season, six days out of the seven. 

But although Mrs. Barbara brought faithfully to the joint stock 
all savings which her awful powers of economy accorhplished to 
scrape together, and although the dower of their mother was by 
degrees expended, or nearly so, in aiding them upon extreme occa- 
sions, the term at length approached when it seemed impossible 
that they could sustain the conflict any longer against the evil star 
of Triptolemus, as he called it himself, or the natural result of his 
absurd speculations, as it was termed by others. Luckily at this 
sad crisis, a god jumped down to their relief out of a machine. In 
plain English, the noble lord, who owned their farm, arrived at his 
mansion-house in their neighbourhood, with his coach and six and 
his running footmen, in the full splendour oi the seventeenth 

This person of quality was the son of the nobleman who had 
brought the ancient Jasper into the country from Yorkshire, and he 
was, like his father, a fanciful and scheming man.* He had 
schemed well for himself, however, amid the mutations of the time, 
having obtained, for a certain period of years, the administration of 
the remote islands of Orkney and Zetland, for payment of a certain 
rent, with the right of making the most of whatever was the pro- 

The t>IRATE. 45 

perty or revenue of the crown in these districts, under the title of 
Lord Chamberlain. Now, his lordship had become possessed with 
a notion, in itself a very true one, that much might be done to 
render this grant available, by improving the culture of the crown 
lands, both in Orkney and Zetland ; and then having some ac- 
quaintance with our friend Triptolemus, he thought (rather less 
happily) that he might prove a person capable of furthering his 
schemes. He sent for him to the great Hall-house, and was so 
much edified by the way in which our friend laid down the law 
upon every given subject relating to rural economy, that he lost no 
time in securmg the co-operation of so valuable an assistant, the 
first step being to release him from his present unprofitable farm. 

The terms were arranged much to the mind of Triptolemus, who 
had already been taught, by many years' experience, a dark sort of 
notion, that, without undervaluing or doubting for a moment his 
own skill, it would be quite as well that almost all the trouble and 
risk should be at the expense of his employer. Indeed, the hopes 
of advantage which he held out to his patron were so considerable, 
that the Lord Chamberlain dropped every idea of admitting his 
dependent into any share of the expected profits ; for, rude as the 
arts of agriculture were in Scotland, they were far superior to those 
known and practised in the regions of Thule, and Triptolemus 
Yellowley conceived himself to be possessed of a degree of insight 
into these mysteries, far superior to what was possessed or prac- 
tised even in the Mearns. The improvement, therefore, which was 
to be expected, would bear a double proportion, and the Lord 
Chamberlain was to reap all the profit, deducting a handsome 
salary for his steward YeUowley, together with the accommodation 
of a house and domestic farm, for the support of his family. Joy 
seized the heart of Mistress Barbara, at hearing this happy termi- 
nation of what threatened to be so very bad an affair as the lease 
of Cauldacres. 

" If we cannot," she said, " provide for our own house, when all 
is coming in, and nothing going out, surely we must be worse than 

Triptolemus was a busy man for some time, huffing and puffing, 
and eating and drinking in every changehouse, while he ordered 
and collected together proper implements of agriculture, to be 
used by the natives of these devoted islands, whose destinies were 
menaced with this formidable change. Singular tools these would 
seem, if presented before a modern agricultural society ; but every 
thing is relative, nor could the heavy cartload of timber, called the 
old Scots plough, seem less strange to a Scottish farmer of this 
present day, than the corslets and casques of the soldiers of Cortes 

45 The pirate;. 

might seem fo a regiment of our own army. Yet the lattef dOfl- 
quered Mexico, and undoubtedly the former would have been a 
splendid improvement on the state of agriculture in Thule. 

We have never been able to learn why Triptolemus preferred 
fixing his residence in Zetland, to becoming an inhabitant of the 
Orkneys. Perhaps he thought the inhabitants of the latter Archi- 
pelago the more simple and docile of the two kindred tribes ; or 
perhaps he considered the situation of the house and farm he him- 
self was to occupy, (which was indeed a tolerable one,) as preferable 
to that which he had it in his power to have obtained upon Pomona 
(so the main island of the Orkneys is entitled). At Harfra, or, 
as it was sometimes called, Stourburgh, from the remains of a 
Pictish fort, which was almost close to the mansion-house, the 
factor settled himself, in the plentitude of his authority ; deter- 
mined to honour the name he bore by his exertions, in precept and 
example, to civilize the Zetlanders, and improve their very confined 
knowledge in the primary arts of human life. 


The wind blew keen frae north and east ; 

It blew upon the floor. 
Quo' our goodman to our goodwife, 

" Get up and bar the door." 

" My hand is in my housewife-skep, 

Goodman, as ye may see ; 
If it shouldna be barr'd this hundred years, 

It's no be barr'd for me !" 

Old Song. 

We can only hope that the gentle reader has not found the latter 
part of the last chapter extremely tedious ; but^ at any rate, his 
impatience will scarce equal that of young Mordaunt Mertoun, 
who, while the lightning came flash after flash, while the wind, 
veering and shifting from point to point, blew with all the fury of a 
hurricane, and while the rain was dashed against him in deluges, 
stood hammering, calling, and roaring at the door of the old Place 
of Harfra, impatient for admittance, and at a loss to conceive any 
position of existing circumstances, which could occasion the exclu- 
sion of a stranger, especially during such horrible weather. At 
length, finding his noise and vociferation were equally in vain, he 

THE PlRATfi. 45i 

fell back so far from the front of the house, as was necessary to 
enable him to reconoitre the chimneys ; and amidst " storm and 
shade," could discover, to the increase of his dismay, that though 
noon, then the dinner hour of these islands, was now nearly arrived, 
there was no smoke proceeding from the tunnels of the vents to 
give any note of preparation within. 

Mordaunt's wrathful impatience was now changed into sympathy 
and alarm ; for, so long accustomed to the exuberant hospitality of 
the Zetland islands, he was immediately induced to suppose some 
strange and unaccountable disaster had befallen the family ; and 
forthwith set himself to discover some place at which he could 
make forcible entry, in order, to ascertain the situation of the 
inmates, as much as to obtain shelter from the still increasing 
storm. His present anxiety was, however, as much thrown away 
as his late clamorous importunities for admittance had been. 
Triptolemus and his sister had heard the whole alarm without, and 
had already had a sharp dispute on the propriety of opening the 

Mrs. Baby, as we have described her, was no willing renderer of 
the rites of hospitality. In their farm of Cauldacres, in the M earns, 
she had been the dread and abhorrence of all gaberlunzie men, 
and travelling packmen, gipsies, long remembered beggars, and so 
forth ; nor was there one of them so wily, as she used to boast, as 
could ever say they had heard the clink of her sneck. In Zetland, 
where the new settlers were yet strangers to the extreme honesty 
and simplicity of all classes, suspicion and fear joined with frugality 
in her desire to exclude all wandering guests of uncertain cha- 
racter ; and the second of these motives had its effect on Trip- 
tolemus himself, who, though neither suspicious nor penurious, 
knew good people were scarce, good farmers scarcer, and had a 
reasonable share of that wisdom which looks towards self-preserva- 
tion as the first law of nature. These hints may serve as a com- 
mentary on the following dialogue which took place betwixt the 
brother and sister. 

" Now, good be gracious to us," said Triptolemus, as he sat 
thumbing his old school-copy of Virgil, " here is a pure day for the 
bear seed ! — Well spoke the wise Mantuan — veiitis surge7itibics — 
and then the groans of the mountains, and the long-reaounding 
shores — but where's the woods, Baby .■■ tell me, I say, where we 
shall find the nemorian mnrmiir, sister Baby, in these new seats of 
ours ? " 

" What's your foohsh will ?" said Baby, popping her head from 
out of a dark recess in the kitchen, where she was busy about some 
jiameless deed of housewifery. 


Her brother, who had addressed himself to her more from habit 
than intention, no sooner saw her bleak red nose, keen grey eyes, 
with the sharp features thereunto conforming, shaded by the flaps 
of the loose toy which depended on each side of her eager face 
than he bethought himself that his query was likely to find little 
acceptation from her, and therefore stood another volley before he 
would resume the topic. 

" I say, Mr. Yellowley," said sister Baby, coming into the middle 
of the room, " what for are ye crying on me, and me in the midst 
of my housewife-skep .'' " 

" Nay, for nothing at all. Baby," answered Triptolemus, " saving 
that I was saying to myself, that here we had the sea, and the 
wind, and the rain, sufficient enough, but where's the wood? 
Where's the wood, Baby, answer me that ? " 

" The wood ? " replied Baby — " Were I no to take better care of 
the wood than you, brother, there would soon be no more wood 
about the town than the barber's block that's on your own shoulders, 
Triptolemus. If ye be thinking of the wreck-wood that the callants 
brought in yesterday, there was six ounces of it gaed to boil your 
parritch this morning ; though, I trow, a carefu' man wad have 
ta'en drammock, if breakfast he behoved to have, rather than 
waste baith meltith and fuel in the same morning." 

" That is to say. Baby," replied Triptolemus, who was some-' 
what of a dry joker in his way, " that when we have fire we are not 
to have food, and when we have food we are not to have fire, 
these being too great blessings to enjoy both in the same day ! 
Good luck, you do not propose we should starve with cold and 
starve with hunger imico contextic. But, to tell you the truth, I 
could never away with raw oatmeal, slockened with water, in all 
my life. Call it drammock, or crowdie, or just what ye list, my 
vivers must thole fire and water." 

"The mair gowk you," said Baby; "can ye not make your 
brose on the Sunday, and sup them cauld on the Monday, since 
ye're sae dainty? Mony is the fairer face than yours that has 
licked the lip after such a cogfu'." 

" Mercy on us, sister !" said Triptolemus; "at this rate, it's a 
finished field with me— I must unyoke the pleugh, and lie down to 
wait for the dead-thraw. Here is that in this house wad hold all 
Zetland in meal for a twelvemonth, and ye grudge a cogfu' of 
warm parritch to me, that has sic a charge ! " 

"Whisht— baud your silly clavering tongue !" said Baby, looking 
round with apprehension—" ye are a wise man to speak of what is 
in the house, and a fitting man to have the charge of it !— Hark, as 
I live by bread, I hear a tapping at the outer yett ! " 


" Go and open it then, Baby," said her brother, glad at anything 
that promised to interrupt the dispute. 

" Go and open it, said he ! " echoed Baby, half angry, half 
frightened, and half triumphant at the superiority of her under- 
standing over that of her brother — " Go and open it, said he 
indeed ! — is it to lend robbery a chance to take all that is in the 

" Robbers ! " echoed Triptolemus, in his turn ; there are no 
more robbers in this country than there are lambs at Yule. I tell 
you, as I have told you an hundred times, there are no Highland- 
men to harry us here. This is a land of quiet and honesty. O 
fortimati nimimn ! " 

" And what good is Saint Rinian to do ye, Tolimus ? " said 
his sister, mistaking the quotation for a Catholic invocation. 
" Besides, if there be no Highlandmen, there m^y be as bad. I 
saw sax or seven as ill-looking chields gang past the Place yester- 
day, as ever came frae beyont Clochna-ben ; ill-fa'red tools they 
had in their hands, whaaling knives they ca'ed them, but they 
looked as like dirks and whingers as ae bit aim can look like 
anither. There is nae honest men carry siccan tools." 

Here the knocking and shouts of Mordaunt were very audible 
betwixt every swell of the horrible blast which was careering with- 
out. The brother and sister looked at each other in real perplexity 
and fear. " If they have heard of the siller," said Baby, her very 
nose changing with terror from red to blue, " we are but gane 

" Who speaks now, when they should hold their tongue ? " said 
Triptolemus. " Go to the shot-window instantly, and see how 
many there are of them, while I load the old Spanish-barrelled 
duck-gun — go as if you were, stepping on new-laid eggs." 

Baby crept to the window, and reported that she saw only " one 
young chield, clattering and roaring as gin he were daft. How 
many there might be out of sight, she could not say." 

" Out of sight : — nonsense," said Triptolemus, laying aside the 
ramrod with which he was loading the piece, with a trembling 
hand. " I will warrant them out of sight and hearing both — this 
is some poor fellow catched in the tempest, wants the shelter of 
our roof, and a little refreshment. Open the door, Baby, it's a 
Christian deed." 

" But is it a Christian deed of him to come in at the window, 
then ? " said Baby, setting up a most doleful shriek, as Mordaunt 
Mertoun, who had forced open one of the windows, leaped down 
into the apartment, dripping with water like a river god. Tripto- 
lemus, in great tribulation, presented the gun which he had not yet 



loaded, while the intruder exclaimed, " Hold, hold— what the devil 
mean you by keeping your doors bolted in weather like this, and 
levelling your gun at folk's heads as you would at a sealgh's? " 

" And who are you, friend, and what want you ? " said Tripto- 
lemus, lowering the butt of his gun to the floor as he spoke, and so 
recovering his arms. 

" What do I want ! " said Mordaunt ; " I want every thing— I 
want meat, drink, and fire, a bed for the night, and a sheltie for 
to-morrow morning to carry me to Jarlshof " 

" And ye said there were nae caterans or sorners here ? " said 
Baby to the agriculturist, reproachfully. " Heard ye ever a breek- 
less loon frae Lochaber tell his mind and his erraJid mair deftly? 
— Come, come, friend," she added, addressing herself to Mor- 
daunt, " put up your pipes and gang your gate ; this is the house 
of his lordship's factor, and no place of reset for thiggers or sor- 

Mordaunt laughed in her face at the simplicity of the request. 
"Leave built walls," he said, "and in such a tempest as this? 
What take you me for? — a gannet or a scart do you think 1 am, 
that your clapping your hands and skirling at me like a mad- 
woman, should drive me from the shelter into the storm ?" 

" And so you propose, young man," said Triptolemus, gravely, 
" to stay in my house, volens nolens — that is, whether we will or 

"Will!" said Mornaunt; "what right have you to will any 
thing about it ? Do you not hear the thunder ? Do you not hear 
the rain ? Do you not see the lightning ? And do you not know 
this is the only house within I wot not how many miles ? Come, 
my good master and dame, this may be Scottish jesting, but it 
sounds strange in Zetland ears. You have let out the fire, too, 
and my teeth are dancing a jig in my head with cold ; but I'll soon 
put that to rights." 

He seized the fire-tongs, raked together the embers upon the 
hearth, broke up into life the gathering-peat, which the hostess had 
calculated should have preserved the seeds of fire, without giving 
them forth, for many hours ; then casting his eye round, saw in a 
corner the stock of drift-wood, which Mistress Baby had served 
forth by ounces, and transferred two or three logs of it at once to 
the hearth, which, conscious of such unwonted supply, began to 
transmit to the chimney such a smoke as had not issued from the 
Place of Harfra for many a day. 

While their uninvited guest was thus making himself at home, 
Baby kept edging and jogging the factor to turn out the intruder. 
But for this undertaking, Triptolemus Yellowley felt neither courage 


nor zeal, nor did circumstances seem at all to warrant the favour- 
Eible conclusion of any fray into which he might enter with the 
young stranger. The sinewy limbs and graceful form of Mor- 
daunt Mertoun were seen to great advantage in his simple sea- 
dress ; and with his dark sparkling eye, finely formed head, 
animated features, close curled dark hair, and bold, free looks, the 
stranger formed a very strong contrast with the host on whom he 
had intruded himself. Triptolemus was a short, clumsy, duck 
legged disciple of Ceres, whose bottle-nose, turned up and hand- 
somely coppered at the extremity, seemed to intimate something of 
an occasional treaty with Bacchus. It was like to be no equal 
mellay betwixt persons of such unequal form and strength ; and 
the difference betwixt twenty and fifty years was nothing in favour 
of the weaker party. Besides, the factor was an honest good- 
natured fellow at bottom, and being soon satisfied that his guest 
had no other views than those of obtaining refuge from the storm, 
it would, despite his sister's instigations, have been his last act to 
deny a boon so reasonable and necessary to a youth whose exterior 
was so prepossessing. He stood, therefore, considering how he 
could most gracefully glide into the character of the hospitable 
landlord, out of that of the churlish defender of his domestic 
castle, against an unauthorized intrusion, when Baby, who had 
stood appalled at the extreme familiarity of the stranger's address 
and demeanour, now spoke up for herself. 

"My troth, lad," said she to Mordaunt, "ye are no blate,to light 
on at that rate, and the best of wood, too — nane of your sharney 
peats, but good aik timber, nae less maun serve ye ! " 

" You come lightly by it, dame," said Mordaunt, carelessly ; 
" and you should not grudge to the fire what the sea gives you for 
nothing. These good ribs of oak did their last duty upon earth 
and ocean, when they could hold no longer together under the 
brave hearts that manned the bark." 

" And that's true, too," said the old woman, softening — " this 
maun be awsome weather by sea. Sit down and warm ye, since 
the sticks are a-low." 

" Ay, ay," said Triptolemus, " it is a pleasure to see siccan a 
bonny bleeze. I havena seen the like o't since I left] Cauld- 

" And shallna see the like o't again in a hurry,'' said Baby, 
unless the house take fire, or there suld be a coal-heugh found 

" And wherefore should not there be a coal-heugh found out? " 
said the factor, triumphantly — " I say, wherefore should not a coal- 
heugh be found out in Zetland as well as in Fife, now that the 



Chamberlain has a far-sighted and discreet man upon the spot to 
make the necessary perquisitions ? They are baith fishing-stations, 
I trow?" 

" I tell you what it is, Tolemus Yellowley," answered his sister, 
who had practical reasons to fear her brother's opening upon any 
false scent, " if you promise my Lord sae mony of these bonnie- 
wallies, we'll no be weel hafted here before we are found out and 
set a-trotting again. If ane was to speak to ye about a gold mine, 
I ken weel wha would promise he suld have Portugal pieces clink- 
ing in his pouch before the year gaed by." 

"And why suld I not ? " said Triptolemus — " maybe your head 
does not know there is a land in Orkney called Ophir, or some- 
thing very like it ; and wherefore might not Solomon, the wise King 
of the Jews, have sent thither his ships and his servants for four 
hundred and fifty talents ? I trow he knew best i where to go or 
send, and I hope you believe in your Bible, Baby ! " 

Baby was silenced by an appeal to Scripture, however mal d 
propos, and only answered by an inarticulate humph of incredulity 
or scorn, while her brother went on addressing Mordaunt. — " Yes, 
you shall all of you see what a change shall coin introduce, even 
-into such an unpropitious country as yours. Ye have not heard of 
copper, I warrant, nor of iron-stone, in these islands, neither?" 
Mordaunt said he had heard there was copper near the Cliffs of 
Konigsburgh. "Ay, and a copper scum is found on the Loch of 
Swana, too, young man. But the youngest of you, doubtless, 
thinks himself a match for such as I am ! " 

Baby, who during all this while had been closely and accurately 
reconnoitring the youth's person, now interposed in a manner by 
her brother totally unexpected. " Ye had mair need, Mr. Yel- 
lowley, to give the young man some dry clothes, and to see about 
getting something for him to eat, than to sit there bleezing away 
with your lang tales, as if the weather were not windy enow with- 
out your help ; and maybe the lad would drink some bland, or sic- 
like, if ye had the grace to ask him." 

While Triptolemus looked astonished at such a proposal, con- 
sidering the quarter it came from, Mordaunt answered, he "should 
be very glad to have dry clothes, but begged to be excused from 
drinking imtil he had eaten somewhat." 

Triptolemus accordingly conducted him into another apartment, 
and accommodating him with a change of dress, left him to his 
arrangements, while he himself returned to the kitchen, much 
puzzled to account for his sister's unusual fit of hospitality. " She 
must be /<y,"* he said, " and in that case has not long to live, 
and though I fall heir to her tocher-good, I am sorry for it ; for 

The pirate. S3 

she lias held the house-gear well together — drawn the girth over 
tight it may be now and then, but the saddle sits the better." 

When Triptolemus returned to the kitchen, he found his sus- 
picions confirmed ; for his sister was in the desperate act of con- 
signing to the pot a smoked goose, which, with others of the same 
tribe, had long hung in the large chimney, muttering to herself at 
the same time, — " It maun be eaten sune or syne, and what for no 
by the puir callant ? " 

" What is this of it, sister ? " said Triptolemus. " You have on 
the girdle and the pot at ance. What day is this wi' you ? " 

" E'en such a day as the Israelites had beside the flesh-pots of 
Egypt, billie Triptolemus ; but ye little ken wha ye have in your 
house this blessed day." 

" Troth, and little do I ken," said Triptolemus, " as little as I 
would ken the naig I never saw before. I would take the lad for a 
jagger,* but he has rather ower good havings, and he has no 
pack." I 

" Ye ken as little as aiie of your ain bits o' nowt, man," retorted 
sister Baby ; " if ye ken na him, do ye ken Tronda Drons 
daughter ? " 

" Tronda Dronsdaughter ! " echoed Triptolemus — " how should I 
but ken her, when I pay her twal pennies Scots by the day, for 
working in the house here ? I trow she works as if the 'things 
burned her fingers. I had better give a Scots lass a groat of 
English siller." 

" And that's the maist sensible word ye have said this blessed 
morning. — Weel, but Tronda kens this lad weel, and she has often 
spoke to me about him. They call his father the Silent Man of 
Sumburgh, and they say he's uncanny." 

" Hout, hout — nonsense, nonsense — they are aye at sic trash as 
that," said the brother, " when you want a day's wark out of them 
— they have stepped ower the tangs, or they have met an uncanny 
body, or they have turned about the boat against the sun, and then 
there's nought to be done that day." 

" Weel, weel, brother, ye are so wise," said Baby, " because ye 
knapped Latin at Saint Andrews ; and can your lair tell me, then, 
what the lad has round his halse?" 

" A Barcelona napkin, as wet as a dishclout, and I have just lent 
him one of my own overlays," said Triptolemus. 

" A Barcelona napkin ! " said Baby, elevating her voice, and then 
suddenly lowering it, as from apprehension of being overheard — 
" I say a gold chain ! " 

■' A gold chain ! " said Triptolemus. 

" In troth is it, hinny ; and how like you that ? The folk say 


here, as Tronda tells me, that the King of the Drows gave it to his 
father, the Silent Man of Sumburgh." 

" I wish you would speak sense, or be the sileht woman," said Trip- 
tolemus. " The upshot of it all is, then, that this lad is the rich 
stranger's son, and that you are giving him the goose you were to 
keep till Michaelmas ! " 

" Troth, brother, we maun do something for God's sake, and to 
make friends ; and the lad," added Baby, (for even she was no^ 
altogether above the prejudies of her sex in favour of outward form,) 
" the lad has a fair face of his ain." 

" Ye would have let mony a fair face," said Triptolemus, " pass 
the door pining, if it had not been for the gold chain." 

" Nae doubt, nae doubt," replied Barbara ; " ye wadna have me 
waste our substance on every thigger or sorner that has the luck to 
come by the door in a wet day ? But this lad has a fair and a wide 
name in the country, and Tronda says he is to be married to a 
daughter of the rich Udaller, Magnus Troil, and the marriage-day 
is to be fixed whenever he makes choice (set him up) between the 
twa lasses ; and so it wad be as much as our good name is worth, 
and our quiet forby, to let him sit unserved, although he does come 
unsent for." 

" The best reason in life," said Triptolemus, " for letting a man 
into a house is, that you dare not bid him go by. However, since 
there is a man of quality amongst them, I will let him know whom 
he has to do with, in my person." Then advancing to the door, 
he exclaimed, " Heiis tibi, Dave ! " 

" Adsiim," answered the youth, entering the apartment. 
" Hem ! " said the erudite Triptolemus, " not altogether deficient 
in his humanities, I see. I will try him further.— Canst thou aught 
of husbandr)', young gentleman ? " 

" Troth, sir, not I," answered Mordaunt ; " I have been trained 
to plough upon the sea, and to reap upon the crag." 

" Plough the sea ! " said Triptolemus ; " that's a furrow requires - 
small harrowing ; and for your harvest on the crag, I suppose you 
mean these scowries, or whatever you call them. It is a sort of in- 
gathering which the Ranzelman should stop by the law ; nothing 
more likely to break an honest man's bones. I profess I cannot 
see the pleasure men propose by dangling in a rope's-end betwixt 
earth and heaven. In my case, I had as lief the other end of the 
rope were fastened to the gibbet ; I should be sure of not falling, at 

" Now, I would only advise you to try it," replied Mordaunt. 
" Trust me, the world has few grander sensations than when one is 
perched in mid-air between a high-browed cliff and a roarin"- 


ocean, the rope by which you are sustained seeming scarce stronger 
than a silken thread, and the stone on which you have one foot 
Sieadied, affording such a breadth as tlie kittywalce might rest 
upon — to feel and know all this, with the full confidence that your 
ovn agility of limb, and strength of head, can bring you as safe off 
as if you had the wing of the gosshawk — this is indeed being almost 
independent of the earth you tread on ! " 

Triptolemus stared at this enthusiastic description of an amuse- 
ment which had so few charms for him ; and his sister, looking at 
the glancing eye and elevated bearing of the young adventurer, 
answered, by ejaculating, "My certie, lad, but ye are a brave 
chield ! " 

" A brave chield ? " returned Yellowley, — " I say a brave goose, 
to be flichtering and fleeing in the wind when he might abide upon 
terrzfirma ! But come, here's a goose that is more to the purpose, 
wher. once it is well boiled. Get us trenchers and salt. Baby — but 
in truth it will prove salt enough — a tasty morsel it is ; but I think 
the Zetlanders be the only folk in the world that think of running 
such risks to catch geese, and then boiling them when they have 

" To be sure,'' replied his sister, (it was the only word they had 
agreed in that day,) " it would be an unco thing to bid ony gude- 
wife in Angus or a' the Mearns boil a goosey while there was sic 
things as spits in the warld. — But wha's this neist ! " she added, look- 
ing towards the entrance with great indignation. " My certie, 
open doors, and dogs come in — and wha opened the door to 

" I did, to be sure," replied Mordaunt ; " you would not have a 
poor devil stand beating your deaf door-cheeks in weather like 
1his ? — Here goes something, though, to help the fire," he added, 
drawing out the sliding bar of oak with which the door had been 
secured, and throwing it on the hearth, whence it was snatched by 
Dame Baby in great wrath, she exclaiming at the same time, — 

" It's sea-borne timber, as there's little else here, and he dings it 
about as if it were a fir-clog ! — And who be you, and it please you ? " 
sle added, turniiag to the stranger, — " a very hallanshaker loon, as 
e\er crossed my twa een ! " 

" I am a jagger, if it like your ladyship," replied the uninvited 
giEst a stout, vulgar, little man, who had indeed the humble ap- 
peirance of a pedlar, called jagger in these islands — " never 
travelled in a waur day, or was more wiUing to get to harbourage. 
— Heaven be praised for fire and house-room ! " 

£o saying, he drew a stool to the fire, and sat down without 
further ceremony. Dame Baby stared " wild as grey gosshawk," 


and was meditating how to express her indignation in something 
warmer than words, for which the boiling pot seemed to offer a con- 
venient hint, when an old half-starved serving woman — the Troniia 
already mentioned— the sharer of Barbara's domestic cares, w^o 
had been as yet in some remote corner of the mansion, now hobb^d 
into the room, and broke out into exclamations which indicated sotoe 
new cause of alarm. I 

" O master ! " and " O mistress ! " were the only sounds jhe 
could for some time articulate, and then followed them up wp, 
" The best in the house— the best in the house — set a' on the bojfd, 
and a' will be little aneugh — There is auld Noma of Fitful-head, 
the most fearful woman in all the isles ! " ! 

" Where can she have been wandering ? " said Mordaunt, iot 
without some apparent sympathy with the surprise, if not with che 
alarm, of the old domestic ; " but it is needless to ask — the vwrse 
the weather, the more likely is she to be a traveller." / 

" What new tramper is this .■' " echoed the distracted Baby, whom 
the quick succession of guests had driven wellnigh crazV with 
vexation. " I'll soon settle her wandering, I sail warrant,if my 
brother has but the sauI of a man in him, or if there be a pair of 
jougs at Scalloway ! " ' ' 

" The iron was never forged on stithy that would hauld her" said 
the old maid-servant. " She comes — she comes — God's sake speak 
her fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp on the yarn- 
windles !" 

As she spoke, a woman, tall enough almost to touch the top of 
the door with her cap, stepped into the room, signing the cross as 
she entered, and pronouncing, with a solemn voice, " The blessing 
of God and Saint Ronald on the open door, and their broad maUsoij 
and mine upon close-handed churls ! " . 

" And v/ha are ye, that are sae bauld wi' your blessing and ban 
ning in other folk's houses ? What kind of country is this, th^ 
folk cannot sit quiet for an hour, and serve Heaven, and keep thef 
bit gear thegither, without gangrel men and women coming thig- 
ging and sorning ane after another, like a string of wil^- 
geese ? " / 

This speech, the understanding reader will easily saddle in 
Mistress Baby, and what effects it might have produced on the list 
stranger, can only be matter of conjecture ; for the old servant aiid 
Mordaunt appUed themselves at once to the party addressed! in 
order to deprecate her resentment ; the former speaking to fier 
some words of Norse, in a tone of intercession, and Mordaunt pay- 
ing in English, " They are strangers, Noma, and know not jour 
name or qualities ; they are unacquainted, too, with the wa4 of 


this country, and therefore we must hold them excused for their 
lack of hospitality." 

" I lack no hospitality, young man," said Triptolemus, " miseris. 
succurrere disco — the goose that was destined to roost in the chim- 
ney till Michaelmas, is boiling in the pot for you ; but if we had 
twenty geese, I see we are like tg find mouths to eat them every 
feather — this must be amended." 

"What must be amended, sordid slave?" said the stranger 
Noma, turning at once upon him with an emphasis that made him 
start — " W/4a/mustbe amended? Bring hither, if thou wilt, thy 
newfangled coulters, spades, and harrows, alter the implements of 
our fathers from the ploughshare to the mouse-trap ; but know thou 
art in the land that was won of old by the flaxen-haired Kempions 
of the North, and leave us their hospitality at least, to show we 
come of what was once noble and generous. I say to you beware 
— while Noma looks forth at the measureless waters, from the crest 
of Fitful-head, something is yet left that resembles power of defence. 
I f the men of Thule have ceased to be champions, and to spread 
the banquet for the raven, the women have not forgotten the arts 
that lifted them of yore into queens and prophetesses." 

The woman who pronounced this singular tirade, was as striking 
in appearance as extravagantly lofty in her pretensions and in her 
language. She might well have represented on the stage, so far as 
features, voice, and stature, were concerned, the Bonduca or Boa- 
dicea of the Britons, or the sage Velleda, Aurinia, or any other 
fated Pythoness, who ever led to battle a tribe of the ancient Goths. 
Her features were high and well formed, and would have been 
handsome, but for the ravages of time and the effects of exposure to 
the severe weather of her country. Age, and perhaps sorrow, had 
quenched, in some degree, the fire of a dark-blue eye, whose hue 
almost approached to black, and had sprinkled snow on such parts 
of her tresses as had escaped from under her cap, and were di- 
shevelled by the rigour of the storm. Her upper garment, which 
dropped with water, was of a coarse dark-coloured stuff, called 
wadmaal, then much used in the Zetland islands, as also in Iceland 
and Norway. But as she threw this cloak back from her shoulders, 
a short jacket, of dark-blue velvet, stamped with figures, became 
visible, and the vest, which corresponded to it, was of crimson 
colour, and embroidered with tarnished silver. Her girdle was 
plated .with silver ornaments, cut into the shape of planetary signs 
— her blue apron was embroidered with similar devices, and covered 
a petticoat of crimsoii cloth. Strong thick enduring shoes, of the 
half-dressed leather of the country, were tied with straps like those 
of the Roman buskins, over her scarlet stockings. She wore in her 


belt an ambiguous-looking weapon, which might pass for a sacri- 
ficing knife, or daggei, as the imagination of the spectator chose to 
assign to the wearer the character of a priestess or of a sorceress. 
In her hand she held a staff, squared on all sides, and engraved 
with Runic characters and figures, forming one of those portable 
and perpetual calendars which were used among the ancient natives 
of Scandinavia, and which, to a superstitious eye, might have 
passed for a divining rod. 

Such were the appearance, features, and attire, of Noma of the 
Fitful-head, upon whom many of the inhabitants of the island 
looked with observance, many with fear, and almost aU with a sort 
of veneration. Less pregnant circumstances of suspicion would, in 
any other part of Scotland, have exposed her to the investigation 
of those cruel inquisitors, who were then often invested with the 
delegated authority of the Privy Council, for the purpose of per- 
secuting, torturing, and finally consigning to the flames, those who 
were accused of witchcraft or sorcery. But superstitions of this 
nature pass through two stages ere they become entirely obsolete. 
Those supposed to be possessed of supernatural powers, are vene- 
rated, in the earlier stages of society. As religion and knowledge 
increase, they are first held in hatred and horror, and are finally re- 
garded as impostors. Scotland was in the second state — the fear 
of witchcraft was great, and the hatred against those suspected of 
it intense. Zetland was as yet a little world by itself, where, 
among the lower and ruder classes, so much of the ancient nor- 
thern superstition remained, as cherished the original veneration 
for those affecting supernatural knowledge, and power over the 
elements, which made a constituent part of the ancient Scandina- 
vian creed. At least if the natives of Thule admitted that one class 
of magicians performed their feats by their alliance with Satan, they 
devoutly believed that others dealt with spirits of a different and 
less odious class — the ancient Dwarfs, called, in Zetland, Trows, or 
Drows, the modern fairies, and so forth. 

Among those who were supposed to be in league with disem- 
bodied spirits, this Noma, descended from, and representative of, a 
family, which had long pretended to such gifts, was so eminent, 
that the name assigned to her, which signifies one pi those fatal 
sisters who weave the web of human fate, had been conferred in 
honour of her supernatural powers. The name by which she had 
been actually christened was carefully concealed by herself and her 
parents ; for to its discovery they superstitiously annexed some 
fatal consequences. In those times the doubt only occurred, 
whether her supposed powers were acquired by lawful means. In 
our days, it would have been questioned whether she was an im- 

The pmATE. S5 

poster, or whether her imagination waS so deeply impressed with 
the mysteries of her supposed art, that she might be in some degree 
a behever in her own pretensions to supernatural knowledge. 
Certain it is, that she performed her part with such undoubting 
confidence, and such striking dignity of look and action, and 
evinced, at the same time, such strength of language, and energy of 
purpose, that it would have been difficult for the greatest sceptic to 
have doubted the reality of her enthusiasm, though he might smile 
at the pretensions to which it gave rise. 


If, by your art, you have 

Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. ' 


The storm had somewhat relaxed its rigour just before the 
entrance of Noma, otherwise she must have found it impossible to 
travel during the extremity of its fury. But she had hardly added 
herself so unexpectedly to the party whom chance had assembled 
at the dwelling of Triptolemus Yellowley, when the tempest 
suddenly resumed its former vehemence, and raged around the 
building with a fury which made the inmates insensible to anything 
except the risk that the old mansion was about to fall above their 

■ Mistress Baby gave vent to her fears in loud exclamations of 
" The Lord guide us — this is surely the last day — what kind of a 
country of guisards and gyre-carlines is this ! — and you, ye fool 
carle," she added, turning on her brother, (for all her passions had 
a touch of acidity in them,) "to quit the bonny Mearns land to 
come here, where there is naething but sturdy beggars and gaber- 
lunzies within ane's house, and Heaven's anger on the outside 
on't ! " 

" I tell you, sister Baby," answered the insulted agriculturist, 
" that all shall be reformed and amended, — excepting," he added,' 
betwixt his teeth, " the scaulding humours of an ill-natured jaud, 
that can add bitterness to the very storm ! " 

The old domestic and the pedlar meanwhile exhausted them- 
selves in entreaties to Noma, of which, as they were couched in the 
Norse language, the master of the house understood nothing. 


She listened to them with a haughty and unmoved air, and 
rephed at length aloud, and in English — "I will not. What if this 
house be strewed in ruins before morning — where would be the 
world's want in the crazed projector, and the niggardly pinch-com- 
mons, by which it is inhabited ? They will needs come to reform 
Zetland customs, let them try how they like a Zetland storm, — You 
that would not perish, quit this house ! " 

The pedlar seized on his little knapsack, and began hastily to 
brace it on his back ; the old maid-servant cast her cloak about her 
shoulders, and both seemed to be in the act of leaving the house 
as fast as they could. 

Triptolemus Yellowley, somewhat commoved by these ap- 
pearances, asked Mordaunt, with a voice which faltered with appre- 
hension, whether he he thought there was any, that is, so very 
much danger .'' 

" I cannot tell," answered the youth, " I have scarce ever seen 
such a storm. Noma can tell us better than any one when it will 
abate ; for'no one in these islands can judge of the weather like 

" And is that all thou thinkest Noma can do ? '' said the sibyl j 
"thou shalt know her powers are not bounded within such a 
narrow space. Hear me, Mordaunt, youth of a foreign land, but of 
a friendly heart — Dost thou quit this doomed mansion with those 
who now prepare to leave it ? " 

" I do not — I will not, Noma," replied Mordaunt ; " I know not 
your motive for desiring me to remove, and I will not leave, upon 
these dark threats, the house in which I have been kindly received 
in such a tempest as this. If the owners are unaccustomed to our 
practice of unlimited hospitality, I am the more obliged to them 
that they have relaxed their usages, and opened their doors in my 

" He is a brave lad," said Mistress Baby, whose superstitions 
feelings had been daunted by the threats of the supposed sorceress, 
and who, amidst her eager, narrow, and repining disposition, had, 
like all who possess marked character, some sparks of higher 
feeling, which made her sympathize with generous sentiments, 
though she thought it too expensive to entertain them at her own 
cost—" He is a brave lad," she again repeated, " and worthy of ten 
geese, if I had them to boil for him, or roast either. I'll warrant 
him a gentleman's son, and no churl's blood." 

" Hear me, young Mordaunt," said Noma, " and depart from this 
house. Fate has high views on you— you shall not remain in this 
hovel to be crushed amid its worthless ruins, with the relics of its 
more worthless inhabitants, whose life is as little to the world as the 


vegetation of the house-leek, which now grows on their thatch, and 
which shall soon be crushed amongst their mangled limbs." 

" I — I — I will go forth," said Yellowley, who, despite of his bear- 
ing himself scholarly and wisely, was beginning to be terrified for 
the issue of the adventure ; for the house was old, and the walls 
rocked formidably to the blast. 

" To what purpose ? " said his sister. " I trust the Prince of the 
power of the air has not yet suchlike power over those that are 
made in God's image, that a good house should fall about our heads, 
because a randy quean " (here she darted a fierce glance at the 
Pythoness) " should boast us with her glamour, as if we were sae 
mony dogs to crouch at her bidding ! " 

" I was only wanting," said Triptolemus, ashamed of his motion, 
"to look at the bear-braird, which must be sair laid wi' this 
tempest ; but if this honest woman like to bide wi' us, I think it 
were best to let us a' sit doun canny thegither, till it's working 
weather again." 

"Honest woman ! " echoed Baby — " Foul warlock thief! — Aroint 
ye, ye limmer!" she added, addressing Noma directly ; "out 
of an honest house, or, shame fa' me, but I'll take the bittle* to 
you ! " 

Noma cast on her a look of supreme contempt ; then, stepping 
to the window, seemed engaged in deep contemplation of the 
heavens, while the old maid-servant, Tronda, drawing close to her 
mistress, implored, for the sake of all that was dear to man or 
woman, " Do jiot provoke Noma of Fitful-head ! You have no 
sic woman on the mainland of Scotland — she can ride on one o 
these clouds as easily as man ever rode on a sheltie." 

" I shall live to see her ride on the reek of a fat tar-barrel," said 
Mistress Baby ; " and that will be a fit pacing palfrey for her." 

Again Noma regarded the enraged Mrs. Baby Yellowley with a 
look of that unutterable scorn which her haughty features could so 
well express, and moving to the window which looked to the north- 
west, from which quarter the gale seemed at present to blow, she 
stood for some time with her arms crossed, looking out upon the 
leaden-coloured sky, obscured as it was by the thick drift, which, 
coming on in successive gusts of tempest, left ever and anon sad 
and dreary intervals of expectation betwixt the dying and the 
reviving blast. 

Noma regarded this war of the elements as one to whom their 
strife was familiar ; yet the stern serenity of her features had in it 
a cast of awe, and at the same time of authority, as the cabalist 
may be supposed to look upon the spirit he has evoked, and which, 
though he knows how to subject him to his spell, bears still an 


aspect appalling to flesh and blood. The attendants stood by in 
different attitudes, expressive of their various feelings. Mordaunt, 
though not indifferent to the risk in which they stood, was more 
curious than alarmed. He had heard of Noma's alleged power 
over the elements, and now expected an opportunity of judging for 
himself of its reality. Triptolemus Yellowley was confounded at ' 
what seemed to be far beyond the bounds of his philosophy ; and 
if the truth must be spoken, the worthy agriculturist was greatly 
more frightened than inquisitive. His sister was not in the least 
curious on the subject ; but it was difficult to say whether anger or 
fear predominated in her sharp eyes and thin compressed lips, 
The pedlar and old Tronda, confident that the house would never 
fall while the redoubted Noma was beneath its roof, held them- 
selves ready for a start the instant she should take her depar- 

Having looked on the sky for some time in a fixed attitude, .and 
with the most profound silence. Noma at once, yet with a slow and 
elevated gesture, extended her staff of black oak towards that part 
of the heavens from which the blast came hardest, and in the 
midst of its fury chanted a Norwegian invocation, still preserved in 
the Island of Uist, under the name of the Song of the Reim- 
kennar, though some call it the Song of the Tempest. The follow- 
ing is a free translation, it being impossible to render literally 
many of the elliptical and metaphorical terms of expression, 
peculiar to the ancient Northern poetry : — 

" Stern eagle of the far north-west, 

Thou that bearest in thy grasp the thunderbolt, 

Thou whose rushing pinions stir ocean to madness, 

Thou the destroyer of herds, thou the scatterer of navies, 

Thou the breaker down of towers. 

Amidst the scream of thy rage, 

Amidst the rushing of thy onward wings. 

Though thy scream be loud as the cry of a perishing nation. 

Though the rushmg of thy wings be like the roar of ten thousand 

Yet hear, in thine ire and fhy haste, 
Hear thou the voice of the Reim-kennar. 

^Thou hast met the pine-trees of Drontheim, 

Th^""%".'"^'f V ^^.^^ ''^ prostrate beside their uprooted stems; 
Thou hast met the nder of the ocean, ' ^ 


The tall, the strong bark of the fearless rover, 

And she has struck to thee the topsail 

That she had not veiled to a royal armada ; 

Thou hast met the tower that bears its crest among the clouds, 

The battled massive tower of the Jarl of formej- days, 

And the cope-stone of the turret 

Is lying upon its hospitable hearth ; 

But thou too shalt stoop, proud compeller of clouds, 

When thou hearest the voice of the Reim-kennar. 

" There are verses that can stop the stag in the forest. 

Ay, and when the dark-coloured dog is opening on his track ; 

There are verses can make the wild hawk pause on the wing, 

Like the falcon that wears the hood and the jesses, 

And who knows the shrill whistle of the fowler. 

Thou who canst mock at the scream of the drowning mariner, 

And the crash of the ravaged forest, 

And the groan of the overwhelmed crowds, 

When the church hath fallen in the moment of prayer. 

There are sounds which thou also must list. 

When they are chanted by the voice of the Reim-kennar. 

" Enough of woe hast thou wrought on the ocean, 

The widows wring their hands on the beach ; 

Enough of woe hast thou wrought on the land, 

The husbandman folds his arms in despair ; 

Oease thou the waving of thy pinions. 

Let the ocean repose in her dark strength ; 

Cease thou the flashing of thine eye. 

Let the thunderbolt sleeep in the armoury of Odin 

Be thou still at my bidding, viewless racer of the north-western 

Sleep thou at the voice of Noma the Reim-kennar ! " 

We have said that Mordaunt was naturally fond of romantic 
poetry and romantic situation ; it is not therefore surprising that 
he listened with interest to the wild address thus uttered to the 
wildest wind of the compass, in a tone of such dauntless enthu- 
siasm. But though he had heard so much of the Runic rhyme and 
of the northern spell, in the country where he had so long dwelt, 
he was not on this occasion so credulous as to believe that the 
tempest, which had raged so lately, and which was now beginning 
to decline, was subdued before the charmed verse of Noma. Cer- 


tain it was, that the blast seemed passing away, and the appre- 
hended danger was already over ; but it was not improbable that 
this issue had been for some time foreseen by the Pythoness, 
through signs of the weather imperceptible to those who had not 
dwelt long in the country, or had not bestowed on the meteorologi- 
cal phenomena the attention of a strict and close observer. Of 
Noma's experience he had no doubt, and that went a far way to 
explain what seemed supernatural in her demeanour. Yet still the 
noble countenance, half-shaded by dishevelled tresses, the air of 
majesty with which, in a tone of menace as well as of command, 
she addressed the viewless spirit of the tempest, gave him a strong 
inclination to believe in the ascendency of the occult arts over the 
powers of nature ; for, if a woman ever moved on earth to whom 
such authority over the ordinary laws of the universe could belong, 
Noma of Fitful-head, judging from bearing, figure, and face, was 
born to that high destiny. 

The rest of the company were less slow in receiving conviction. 
To Tronda and the jagger none was necessary ; they had long 
believed in the full extent of Noma's authority over the elements. 
But Triptolemus and his sister gazed at each other with wondering 
and alarmed looks, especially when the wind began perceptibly to 
decline; as was remarkably visible during the pauses which Noma 
made betwixt the strophes of her incantation. A long silence 
followed the last verse, until Noma resumed her chant, but with a 
changed and more soothing modulation of voice and tune. 

" Eagle of the far north-western waters, 
Thou hast heard the voice of the Reim-kennar, 
Thou hast closed thy wide sails at her bidding, 
And folded them in peace by thy side. 
My blessing be on thy retiring path ! 
When thou stoopest from thy place on high. 
Soft be thy slumbers in the caverns of the unknown ocean. 
Rest till destiny shall again awaken thee ; 

Eagle of the north-west, thou hast heard the voice of the Reim- 
kennar ! " 

" A pretty sang that would be to keep the corn from shaking in 
har'st," whispered the agriculturist to his sister ; " we must speak 
her fair. Baby— she will maybe part with the secret for a hundred 
pund Scots." / 

"An hundred fules' heads ! " replied Baby—" bid her five merks 
of ready siller. I never knew a witch in my life but she was as 
poor as Job." 


Noma turned towards them as if she had guessed their thoughts ; 
it may be that she did so. She passed them with a look of the 
most sovereign contempt, and walking to the table on which the 
preparations for Mrs. Barbara's frugal meal were already disposed, 
she filled a small wooden quaigh from an earthen pitcher which 
contained bland, a subacid liquor made out of the serous part of 
the milk. She broke a single morsel from a barley-cake, and 
having eaten and drunk, returned towards the churUsh hosts. 
" I give you no thanks," she said, " for my refreshment, for you 
bid me not welcome to it ; and thanks bestowed on a churl 
are like the dew of heaven on the cliffs of Foulah, where it finds 
nought that can be refreshed by its influences. I give you no 
thanks," she said again, but drawing from her pocket a leathern 
purse that seemed large and heavy, she added, " I pay you with 
what you will value more than the gratitude of the whole inhabi- 
tants of Hialtland. Say not that Noma of Fitful-head hath 
eaten of your bread and drunk of your cup, and left you sorrow- 
ing for the charge to which she hath put your house." So say- 
ing, she laid on the table a small piece of antique gold coin, 
bearing the rude and half-defaced effigies of some ancient northern 

Triptolemus' and his sister exclaimed against this liberality 
with vehemence ; the first protesting that he kept no public, and 
the other exclaiming, " Is the carline mad ? Heard ye ever 
of ony of the gentle house of Clinkscale that gave meat for 

"Or for love either?" muttered her brother; "haud to that, 

" What are ye whittie-whattieing about, ye gowk ? " said his 
gentle sister, who suspected the tenor of his murmurs ; " gie the 
ladie back her bonnie-die there, and be blithe to be sae rid on't 
— it wiU be a sclate-stane the morn, if not something worse." 

The honest factor lifted the money to return It, yet could not 
help being struck when he saw the impression, and his hand 
trembled as he handed it to his sister. 

" Yes," said the Pythoness again, as if she read the thoughts of 
the astonished pair, " you have seen that coin before — beware how 
you use it ! It thrives not with the sordid or the mean-souled — it 
was won with honourable danger, and must be expended with 
honourable liberality. The treasure which lies under a cold hearsth 
will one day, like the hidden talent, bear witness against its avari- 
cious possessors." 

This last obscure intimation seemed to raise the alarm and 
the wonder of Mrs. Baby and her brother to the uttermost. The 



latter tried to stammer out something like an invitation to Noma 
to tarry with them all night, or at least to take share of the 
" dinner," so he at first called it ; but looking at the company, 
and remembering the limited contents of the pot, he corrected 
the phrase, and hoped she would take some part of the " snack, 
which would be on the table ere a man could loose a pleugh." 

"I eat not here — I sleep not here," replied Noma — "nay, I 
relieve you not only of my own presence, but I will dismiss your 
unwelcome " guests. — Mordaunt," she added, addressing young 
Mertoun, "the dark fit is past, and your father looks for you 
this evening." 

"Do you return in that direction?" said Mordaunt. "I will 
but eat a morsel, and give you my aid, good mother, on the 
road. The brooks must be out, and the journey perilous." 

" Our roads lie different," answered the Sibyl, "and Noma needs 
not mortal arm to aid her on the way. I am summoned far to the 
east, by those who know well how to smooth my passage. — For 
thee, Bryce Snailsfoot," she continued, speaking to the petilar, 
' speed thee on to Sumburgh — the Roost will afford thee a gallant 
harvest, and worthy the gathering in. Much goodly ware will ere 
now be seeking a new owner, and the careful skipper will sleep 
still enough in the deep haaf, and care not that bale and chest are 
dashing against the shores." 

" Na, na, good mother," answered Snailsfoot, " I desire no man's 
life for my private advantage, and am just grateful for the blessing 
of Providence on my sma' trade. But doubtless one man's loss is 
another's gain ; and as these storms destroy a' thing on land, it is 
but fair they suld send us something by sea. Sae, taking the free- 
dom, like yoursell, mother, to borrow a lump of barley-bread, and 
a draught of bland, I will bid good-day, and thank you, to this 
good gentleman and lady, and e'en go on my way to Jarlshof, as 
you advise." 

"Ay," replied the Pythoness, " where the slaughter is, the eagles 
will be gathered ; and where the wreck is on the shore, the jagger 
is as busy to purchase spoil as the shark to gorge upon the 

This rebuke, if it was intended for such, seemed above the com- 
prehension of the travelling merchant, who, bent upon gain, 
assumed the knapsack and ellwand, and asked Mordaunt, with the 
familiarity permitted in a wild country, whether he would not take 
company along with him ? 

" I wait to eat some dinner with Mr.. Yellowley and Mrs. Baby," 
answered the youth, "and will set forward in half an hour." 

" Then I'll just take my piece in my hand," said the pedlar. 


Accordingly he muttered a benediction, and, without more cere- 
mony, helped himself to what in Mrs. Baby's covetous eyes, 
appeared to be two-thirds of the bread, took a long pull at the jug 
of bland, seized on a handful of the small fish called sillocks, 
which the domestic was just placing on the board, and left the 
room without farther ceremony. 

" My certie," said the despoiled Mrs. Baby, " there is the chap- 
man's drouth* and his hunger baith, as folk say ! If the laws 
against vagrants be executed this gate — It's no that I wad shut the 
door against decent folk," she said, looking to Mordaunt, " more 
especially in such judgment- weather. But I see the goose is dished, 
poor thing." 

This she spoke in a tone of affection for the smoked goose, 
which, though it had long been an inanimate inhabitant of her 
chimney, was far more interesting to Mrs. IBaby in that state, than 
when it screamed amongst the clouds. Mordaunt laughed and 
•took his seat, then turned to look for Noma ; but she had glided 
from the apartment during the discussion with the pedlar. 

" I am glad she is gane, the dour carline," said Mrs. Baby, 
" though she has left that piece of gowd to be an everlasting shame 
to us." 

" Whisht, mistress, for the love of heaven ! " said Tronda Drons- 
daughter; "whakens where_ she maybe this moment! — we are 
no sure but she may hear us, though we cannot see her." 

Mistress Baby cast a startled eye around, and instantly recover- 
ing herself, for she was naturally courageous as well as violent, 
said, " I bade her aroint before, and I bid her aroint again, whether 
she sees me or hears me, or whether she's ower the cairn and awa. 
— And you, ye silly sumph," she said to poor Yellowley, " what do 
ye stand glowering there for ? — You a Saunt Andrew's student ! — 
you studied lair and Latin humanities, as ye ca' them, and daunted 
wi' the clavers of an auld randie wife ! Say your best college 
grace, man, and witch, or nae witch, we'll eat our dinner, and defy 
her. And for the value of the gowden piece, it shall never be said 
I pouched her siller. I will gie it to some poor body — that is, I 
will test * upon it at my death, and keep it for a purse penny till 
that day comes, and that's no using it in the way of spending 
siller. 'Say your best college grace, man, and let us eat and drink 
in the meantime." 

" Ye had muckle better say an oraamus to Saint Ronald, and 
fling a saxpence ower your left shouther, master," said Tronda.* 

" That ye may pick it up, ye jaud," said the implacable Mistress 
Baby ; " it will be iang or ye win the worth of it ony other gate. — 
Sit down, Triptolemus, and mindna the words of a daft wife." 

F 2 


" Daft or wise," replied Yellowley, very much- disconcerted, " she 
kens more than I would wish she kend. It was awfu' to see sic a 
wind fa' at the voice of flesh and blood like oursells-^and then yon 
about the hearth-stane — I cannot but think " 

" If ye cannot but think," said Mrs. Baby, very sharply, " at 
least ye can haud your tongue ? " 

The agriculturist made no reply, but sate down to their scanty 
meal, and did the honours of it with unusual heartiness to his new 
guest, the first of the intruders who had arrived, and the last who 
left them. The sillocks speedily disappeared, and the smoked 
goose, with its appendages, took wing so effectually, that Tronda, 
to whom the polishing of the bones had been destined, found the 
task accomplished, or nearly so, to her hand. After dinner, the 
host produced his bottle of brandy ; but Mordaunt, whose general 
habits were as abstinent almost as those of his father, laid avery 
light tax upon this unusual exertion of hospitality. 

During the meal, they learned so much of young Mordaunt, and 
of his father, that even Baby resisted his wish to reassume his wet 
garments, and pressed him (at the risk of an expensive supper 
being added to the charges of the day) to tarry with them till the 
next morning. But what Noma had said excited the youth's wish 
to reach home, nor, however far the hospitality of Stourburgh was 
extended in his behalf, did the house present any particular temp- 
tations to induce him to remain there longer. He therefore 
accepted the loan of the factor's clothes, promising to return them, 
and send for his own ; and took a civil leave of his host and 
Mistress Baby, the latter of whom, however affected by the loss of 
her goose, could not but think the cost well bestowed (since it 
was to be expended at all) upon so handsome and cheerful a 


She does no work by halves, yon raving ocean ;' 
Engulfing those she strangles, her wild womb 
Affords the mariners whom she hath dealt on. 
Their death at once, and sepulchre. 


There were ten " lang Scots miles " betwixt Stourburgh and 
Jarlshof ; and though the pedestrian did not number all the im- 
pediments which crossed Tarn o' Shanter's path,— for in a country 


where there are neither hedges nor stone enclosures, there can be 
neither "slaps nor stiles,"— yet the number and nature of the 
"mosses and waters" which he had to cross in his peregrination, 
was fully sufficient to balance the account, and to render his journey 
as toilsome a«d dangerous as Tam o' Shanter's celebrated retreat 
from Ayr. Neither witch nor warlock crossed Mordaunt's path, 
however. The length of the day was already considerable, and he 
arrived safe at Jarlshof by eleven o'clock at night. All was still 
and dark round the mansion, and it was not till he had whistled 
twice or thrice beneath Swertha's window, that she replied to the 

At the first sound, Swertha fell into an agreeable dream of a 
young whale-fisher, who some forty years before used to make such 
a signal beneath the window of her hut ; at the second, she waked 
to remember that Johnnie Fea had slept sound among the frozen 
waves of Greenland for this many a year, and that she was Mr. 
Mertoun's governante at Jarlshof; at the third, she arose and 
opened the window. ' 

" Whae is that," she demanded, " at sic an hour of the night ? " 

" It is I," said the youth. 

" And what for comena ye in ? The door's on the latch, and 
there is a gathering peat on the kitchen fire, and a spunk beside it 
— ye can light your ain candle." 

" All well," replied Mordaunt ; " but I want to know how my 
father is?" 

" Just in his ordinary, gude gentleman — asking for you, Maister 
Mordaunt ; ye are ower far and ower late in your walks, young 

f Then the dark hour has passed, Swertha ? " 

" In troth has it, Maister Mordaunt," answered the governante ; 
" and your father is very reasonably good-natured for him, poor 
gentleman. I spake to him twice yesterday without his speaking 
first ; and the first time he answered me as civil as, you could do, 
and the neist time he bade me no plague him ; and then, thought I, 
three times were aye canny, so I spake to him again for luck's-sake, 
and he called me a chattering old devil ; but it was quite and clean 
in a civil sort of way." 

" Enough, enough, Swertha," answered Mordaunt ; " and now 
get up, and find me something to eat, for I have dined but poorly." 

" Then you have been at the new folk's at Stourburgh ; for there 
is no another house in a' the Isles but they wad hae gi'en ye the best 
share of the best they had. Saw ye aught of Noma of the Fitful- 
head ? She went to Stourburgh this morning, and returned to the 
town at night." 


" Returned !— then she is here ? How could she travel three 
leagues and better in so short a time ? " 

"Wha kens how she travels?" replied Swertha ; "but I heard 
her tell the Ranzelman wi' my ain lugs, that she intended that day 
to have gone on to Burgh- Westra, to speak with Minna Troil, but 
she had seen that at Stourburgh, (indee4 she said at Harfra, for 
she never calls it by the other name of Stourburgh,) that sent her 
back to our town. But gang your ways round, and ye shall have 
plenty of supper — ours is nae toom pantry, and still less a locked 
ane, though my master be a stranger, and no just that tight in the 
upper rigging, as the Ranzelman says." 

Mordaunt walked round to the kitchen accordingly, where 
Swertha's care speedily accommodated him with a plentiful, though 
coarse meal, which indemnified him for the scanty hospitality 
he had experienced at Stourburgh. 

In the morning, some feelings of fatigue made young Mertoun 
later than usual in leaving his bed ; so that, contrary to what was 
the ordinary case, he found his father in the apartment where they 
ate, and which served them indeed for every common purpose, 
save that of a bedchamber or of a kitchen. The son greeted the 
father in mute reverence, and waited until he should address 

" You were absent yesterday, Mordaunt ? " said his father. Mor- 
daunt's absence had lasted a week and more ; but he had often 
observed that his father never seemed to notice how time passed 
during the period when he was affected with his sullen vapours. 
He assented to -what the elder Mr. Mertoun had said. 

" And you were at Burgh- Westra, as I think .■' " continued his 

" Yes, sir," replied Mordaunt. 

The elder Mertoun was then silent for some time, and paced the 
floor in deep silence, with an air of sombre reflection, which seemed 
as if he were about to relapse into his moody fit. Suddenly turn- 
ing to his son, however, he observed, in the tone of a query, 
" Magnus Troil has two daughters — they must be now young 
women ; they are thought handsome, of course ? " 

" Very generally, sir," answered Mordaunt, rather surprised to 
hear his father making any enquiries about the individuals of a 
sex which he usually thought so light of, a sqrprise which was 
much increased by the next question, put as abruptly as the 

" Which think you the handsomest ? " 

" I, sir .' " replied his son with some wonder, but without embar- 
rassment—" I really am no judge— 1 never considered which was 


absolutely the handsomest. They are both very pretty young 

" You evade my question, Mordaunt ; perhaps I have some very 
particular reason for my wish to be acquainted with your taste in 
this matter. I am not used to waste words for no purpose. I ask 
you again, which of Magnus Troil's daughters you think most 

" Really, sir," replied Mordaunt—" but you only jest in asking 
me such a question." 

" Young man," replied Mertoun, with eyes which began to roll 
and sparkle with impatience, " 1 never jest. I desire an answer to 
my question." 

" Then, upon my word, sir,'' said Mordaunt, " it is not in my 
power to form a judgment betwixt the young ladies — they are 
both very pretty, but by no means like each other. Minna is 
dark-haired, and more grave than her sister — more serious, but 
by no means either dull or sullen." 

" Um," replied his father ; " you have been gravely brought up, 
and this Minna, I suppose, pleases you most ? " 

" No, sir, really I can give her no preference over her sister 
Brenda, who is as gay as a lamb in a spring morning — less tall 
than her sister, but so well formed, and so excellent a dancer " 

" That she is best qualified to amuse the young man, who has a 
dull home and a moody father ? " said Mr. Mertoun. 

Nothing in his father's conduct had ever surprised Mordaunt 
so much as the obstinacy with which he seemed to pursue a 
theme so foreign to his general train of thought, and habits of* 
conversation ; but he contented himself with answering once more, 
"that both the young ladies were highly admirable, but he had 
never thought of them with the wish to do either injustice, 
by ranking her lower than her sister — that others would probably 
decide between them, as they happened to be partial to a grave 
or a gay disposition, or to a dark or fair complexion; but that 
he could see no excellent quality in the one that was not 
balanced by something equally captivating in the other." 

It is possible that even the coolness with which Mordaunt 
made this explanation might not have satisfied his father con- 
cerning the subject of investigation ; but Swertha at this moment 
entered with breakfast, and the youth, notwithstanding his late 
supper, engaged in that meal with an air which satisfied Mer- 
toun that he held it matter of more grave importance than the 
conversation which they had just had, and that he had ^nothing 
more to say upon the subject explanatory of the answers he had 
already given. He shaded his brow with his hand., and looked 


long fixedly upon the young man as he was busied with his 
morning meal. There was neither abstraction nor a sense of 
being observed in any of his motions ; all was frank, natural, 
and open. 

" He is fancy-free," muttered Mertoun to himself—" so young, so 
lively, and so imaginative, so handsome and so attractive in face 
and person, strange, that ,at his age, and in his circumstances, 
he should have avoided the meshes which catch all the world 
beside ! " 

When the breakfast was over, the elder Mertoun, instead of 
proposing, as usual, that his son, who awaited his commands, 
should betake himself to one branch or other of his studies, 
assumed his hat and staff, and desired that Mordaunt should 
accompany him to the top of the cliff, called Sumburgh-head, and 
from thence look out upon the state of the ocean, agitated as it must 
still be by the tempest of the preceding day. Mordaunt was at the 
age when young men willingly exchange sedentary pursuits for 
active exercise, and started up with alacrity to comply with his 
father's desire ; and in the course of a few minutes they were 
mounting together the hill, which, ascending from the land side in 
a long, steep, and grassy slope, sinks at once from the summit to 
the sea in an abrupt and tremendous precipice. 

The day was delightful ; there was just so much motion in the 
air as to disturb the little fleecy clouds which were scattered on the 
horizon, and by floating them occasionally over the sun, to chequer 
the landscape with that variety of light and shade which often gives 
to a bare and unenclosed scene, for the time at least, a species of 
charm approaching to the varieties of a cultivated and planted 
country. A thousand flitting hues of light and shade played over 
the expanse of wild moor, rocks, and inlets, which as they climbed 
higher and higher, spread in wide and wider circuit around 

The elder Mertoun often paused and looked round upon the 
scene, and for some time his son supposed that he halted to enjoy 
its beauties ; but as they ascended stiU higher up the hill, he 
remarked his shortened breath and his uncertain and toilsome 
step, and became assured, with some feelings of alarm, that his 
father's strength was, for the moment, exhausted, and that he 
found the ascent more toilsome and fatiguing than usual. To 
draw close to his side, and offer him in silence the assistance of 
his arm, was an act of youthful deference to advanced age, as well 
as of fiUal reverence ; and Mertoun seemed at first so to receive 
it, for he took in silence the advantage of the aid thus afforded 


It was but for two or three minutes, however, that the father availed 
himself of his son's support. They had not ascended fifty yards 
farther, ere he pushed Mordaunt suddenly, if not rudely, from him ; 
and, as if stung into exertion by some sudden recollection, be^an 
to mount the acclivity with such long and quick steps, that Mor- 
daunt, in his turn, was obliged to exert himself to keep pace with 
him. He knew his father's peculiarity of disposition ; he was 
aware from many slight circumstances, that he loved him not even 
while he took much pains with his education, and while he seemed 
to be the sole object of his care upon earth. But the conviction 
had never been more strongly or more powerfully forced upon him 
than by the hasty churlishness with which Mertoun rejected from 
a son that assistance, which most elderly men are willing to 
receive from youths with whom they are but slightly connected, as 
a tribute which it is alike graceful to yield and pleasing to receive. 
Mertoun, however, did not seem to perceive the effect which his 
unkindness had produced upon his son's feelings. He paused 
upon a sort of level terrace which they had now attained, and 
addressed his son with an indifferent tone, which seemed in some 
degree affected. 

" Since you have so few inducements, Mordaunt, to remain in 
these wild islands, I suppose you sometimes wish to look a little 
more abroad into the world .'' " 

" By my word, sir," replied Mordaunt, " I cannot say I ever have 
a thought on such a subject." 

" And why not, young man ? " demanded his father ; " it were 
but natural, I think, at your age. At your age, the fair and varied 
breadth of Britain could not gratify me, much less the compass 
of a sea-girdled peat-moss." 

" I have never thought of leaving Zetland, sir," replied the son. 
" I am happy here, and have friends. You yourself, sir, would miss 
me, unless indeed " 

" Why, thou wouldst not persuade me," said his father, some- 
what hastily, " that you stay here, or desire to stay here, for the 
love of me ? " 

" Why should I not, sir ? " answered Mordaunt, mildly ; " it is 
my duty, and I hope I have hitherto performed it." 

" O ay," repeated Mertoun, in the same tone — " your duty — your 
duty. So it is the duty of the dog to follow the groom that feeds him." 

" And does he not do so, sir ? " said Mordaunt. 

" Ay," said his father, turning his head aside ; " but he fawns 
only on those who caress him." 

" I hope, sir," replied Mordaunt, " I have not been found 
deficient ? " 


"Say no more on't— say no more on't," said Mertoun, ab- 
ruptly, "we have both done- enough by each other— we must 
soon part— Let that be our comfort — if our separation should 
require comfort." 

" I shall be ready to obey your wishes," said Mordaunt, not 
altogether displeased at what promised him an opportunity of 
looking farther abroad into the world. " I presume it will be 
your pleasure that I commence my travels with a season at the 

" Whale-fishing ! " replied Mertoun ; " that were a mode indeed 
of seeing the world ! but thou speakest but as thou hast learned. 
Enough of this for the present. Tell me where you had shelter 
from the storm yesterday ? " 

" At Stourburgh, the house of the new factor from Scotland." 

"A pedantic, fantastic, visionary schemer," said Mertoun— "and 
whom saw you there ? " 

" His sister, sir," replied Mordaunt, " and old Noma of the 

" What ! the mistress of the potent spell," answered Mertoun, 
with a sneer — " she who can change the wind by puUing her 
curch on one side, as King Erick used to do by turning his cap? 
The dame journeys far from home — how fares she? Does she 
get rich by selling favourable winds to those who are port- 

" I really do not know, sir," said Mordaunt, whom certain re- 
collections ■ prevented from freely entering into his father's 

" You think the matter too serious to be jested with, or perhaps 
esteem her merchandise too light to be cared after," continued 
Mertoun, in the same sarcastic tone, which was the nearest 
approach he ever made to cheerfulness : "but consider it more 
deeply. Every thing in the universe is bought and sold, and why 
not wind, if the merchant can find purchasers ? The earth is 
rented, from its surface down to its most central mines ;— the fire, 
and the means of feeding it, are currently bought and sold ;— the 
wretches that sweep the boisterous ocean with their nets, pay 
ransom for the privilege of being drowned in it. What title has 
the air to be exempted from the universal course of traffic ? All 
above the earth, under the earth, and around the earth, has its 
price, its sellers, and its purchasers. In many countries the priests 
will sell you a portion of heaven — in all countries men are willing 
to buy, in exchange for health, wealth, and peace of conscience, 
a full allowance of hell. Why should not Noma pursue her 


" Nay, I know no reason against it," replied Mordaunt ; " only I 
wish she would part with the commodity in smaller quantities. 
Yesterday she was a wholesale dealer— whoever treated with her 
had too good a pennyworth." 

" It is even so," said his father, pausing on the verge of the wild 
promontory which they had attained, where the huge precipice 
sinks abruptly down on the wild and tempestuous ocean, " and the 
effects are still visible." 

The face of that lofty cape is composed of the soft and crumbling 
stone called sand-flag, which gradually becomes decomposed, and 
yields to the action of the atmosphere, and is split into large 
masses, that hang loose upon the verge of the precipice, and, de- 
tached from it by the violence of the tempests, often descend with 
great fury into the vexed abyss which lashes the foot of the rock. 
Numbers of these huge fragments lie strewed beneath the rocks 
from which they have fallen, and amongst these the tide foams and 
rages with a fury peculiar to those latitudes. 

At the period when Mertoun and his son looked from the verge 
of the precipice, the wide sea still heaved and swelled with the 
agitation of yesterday's storm, which had been far too violent in its 
effects on the ocean to subside speedily. The tide therefore poured 
on the headland with a fury deafening to the ear, and dizzying to 
the eye, threatening instant destruction to whatever might be at 
the time involved in its current. The sight of Nature, in her 
magnificence, or in her beauty, or in her terrors, has at all times an 
overpowering interest, which even habit cannot greatly weaken ; 
and both father and son sat themselves down on the cliff to look 
out upon that unbounded war of waters, which rolled in their wrath 
to the foot of the precipice. 

At once Mordaunt, whose eyes were sharper, and probably his 
attention more alert, than that of his father, started up, and 
exclaimed, " God in Heaven ! there is, a vessel in the Roost ! " 

Mertoun looked to the north-westward, and an object was visible 
amid the rolling tide. " She shows no sail," he observed ; and im- 
mediately added, after looking at the object through his spy-glass, 
" She is dismasted, and lies a sheer hulk upon the water." 

" And is drifting on the Sumburgh-head," exclaimed Mordaunt, 
struck with horror, " without the slightest means of weathering the 
cape ! " 

" She makes no effort," answered his father ; " she is probably 
deserted by her crew." 

" And in such a day as yesterday," replied Mordaunt, " when no 
open boat could live were she manned with the best men ever 
handled an oar — all must have perished." 


" It is most probable," said his father, with stem composure ; 
"and one day, sooner or later, all must have perished. What 
signifies whether the fowler, whom nothing escapes, caught them 
up at one swoop from yonder shattered deck, or whether he 
clutched them individually, as chance gave them to his grasp? 
What signifies it ?— the deck, the battle-field, are scarce more fatal 
to us than our table and our bed ; and we are saved from the one, 
merely to drag out a heartless and wearisome existence, till we 
perish at the other. Would the hour were come— that hour which 
reason would teach us to wish for, were it not that nature has im- 
planted the fear of it so strongly within us ! You wonder at such 
a reflection, because life is yet new to you. Ere you have 
attained my age, it will be the familiar companion of your 

" Surely, sir," replied Mordaunt, " such distaste to life is not the 
necessary consequence of advanced a^e ? " 

" To all who have sense to estimate that which it is really 
worth," said Mertoun. " Those who, like Magnus Troil, possess 
so much of the animal impulses about them, as to derive pleasure 
from sensual gratification, may perhaps, like the animals, feel plea- 
sure in mere existence." 

Mordaunt liked neither the doctrine nor the example. He 
thought a man who discharged his duties towards others as well as 
the good old Udaller, had a better right to have the sun shine 
fair on his setting, than that which he might derive from mere 
insensibility. But he let the subject drop ; for to dispute with his 
father, had always the effect of irritating him ; and again he 
adverted to the condition of the wreck. 

The hulk, for it was little better, was now in the very midst 
of the current, and drifting at a great rate towards the foot of 
the precipice, upon whose verge they were placed. Yet it was a 
long while ere they had a distinct 'view of the object which they 
had at first seen as a black speck amongst the waters, and then, at 
a nearer distance, like a whale, which now scarce shows its back- 
fin above the waves, now throws to view its large black side. 
Now, however, they could more distinctly observe the appearance 
of the ship, for the huge swelling waves which bore her forward to 
the shore, heaved her alternately high upon the surface, and then 
plunged her in the trough or furrow of the sea. She seemed a 
vessel of two or three hundred tons, fitted up for defence, for they 
could see her port-holes. She had been dismasted probably in the 
gale of the preceding day, and lay water-logged on the waves, a 
prey to their violence. It appeared certain, that the crew, finding 
themselves unable either to direct the vessel's course, or to relieve 


her by pumping, had taken to their boats, and left her to her fate. 
All apprehensions were therefore unnecessary, so far as the im- 
mediate loss of human lives was concerned ; and yet it was not 
without a feeling of breathless awe that Mordaunt and his father 
beheld the vessel— that rare masterpiece by which human genius 
aspires to surmount the waves, and contend with the winds, upon 
the point of falling a prey to them. 

Onward she came, the large black hulk seeming larger at every 
fathom's length. She came nearer, until she bestrode the summit 
of one tremendous billow, which rolled on with her unbroken, till 
the wave and its burden were precipitated against the rock, and 
then the triumph of the elements over the work of human hands 
was at once completed. One wave, we have said, made the wrecked 
vessel completely manifest in her whole bulk, as it raised her, and 
bore her onward against the face of the precipice. But when that 
wave receded from the foot of the rock, the ship had ceased to 
exist ; and the retiring billow only bore back a quantity of beams, 
planks, casks, and similar objects, which swept out to the offing, 
to be brought in again by the next wave, and again precipitated 
upon the face of the rock. 

It was at this moment that Mordaunt conceived he saw a ihan 
floating on a plank or water-cask, which, drifting away from the 
main current, seemed about to go ashore upon a small spot of sand, 
where the water was shallow, and the waves broke more smoothly. 
To see the danger, and to exclaim, " He lives, and may yet be 
saved ! " was the first impulse of the fearless Mordaunt. The > 
next was, after one rapid glance at the front of the cliff, to preci- 
pitate himself— such seemed the rapidity of his movement^from 
the verge, and to commence, by means of slight fissures, projections, 
and crevices in the rock, a descent, which to a spectator, appeared 
little else than an act of absolute insanity. 

" Stop, I command you, rash boy ! " said his father ; " the 
attempt is death. Stop, and take the safer path to the left." But 
Mordaunt was already completely engaged in his perilous enterprise. 

"Why should I prevent him?" said his father, checking his 
anxiety with the stem and unfeeling philosophy whose principles 
he had adopted. " Should he die now, full of generous and high 
feeling, eager in the cause of humanity, happy in the exertion of 
his own conscious activity, and youthful strength — should he die 
now, will he not escape misanthropy, and remorse, and age, and 
the consciousness of decaying powers, both of body and mind ?■ — I 
will not look upon it however — I will not — I cannot behold his 
young light so suddenly quenched." 

He turned from the precipice accordingly, and hastening to the 


eft for more than a quarter of a mile, he proceeded towards a 
riva, or cleft in the rock, containing a path, called Erick's Steps, 
neither safe, indeed, nor easy, but the only one by which the inha- 
bitants of Jarlshof were wont, for any purpose, to seek access to the 
foot of the precipice. 

But long ere Mertoun had reached even the upper end of the 
pass, his adventurous and active son had accomplished his more 
desperate enterprise. He had been in vain turned aside from the 
direct line of descent, by the intervention of difficulties which he 
had not seen from above — ^his route became only more circuitous, 
but could not be interrupted. More than once, large fragments to 
which he was about to intrust his weight, gave way before him, 
and thundered down into the tormented ocean ; and in one or two 
instances, such detached pieces of rock rushed after him, as if to 
bear him 'headlong in their course. A courageous heart, a steady 
eye, a tenacious hand, and a firm foot, carried him through his 
desperate attempt ; and in the space of seven minutes, he stood 
at the bottom of the chff, from the verge of which he had achieved 
his perilous descent. 

The place which he now occupied was the small projecting spot 
of stones, sand, and gravel, that extended a little way into the sea, 
which on the right hand lashed the very bottoiB of the precipice, 
and on the left, was scarce divided from it by a small wave-worn 
portion of beach that extended as far as the foot of the rent in 
the rocks called Erick's Steps, by which Mordaunt's father proposed 
to descend. 

When the vessel split and went to pieces, all was swallowed up 
in the ocean, which had, after the first shock, been seen to float upon 
the waves, excepting only a few pieces of wreck, casks, chests,-and 
the like, which a strong eddy, formed by the reflux of the waves, 
had landed, or at least grounded, upon the shallow where Mordaunt 
now stood. Amongst these, his eager eye discovered the object 
that had at first engaged his attention, and which now, seen at 
nigher distance, proved to be in truth a man, and in a most pre- 
carious state. His arms were still wrapped with a close and con- 
vulsive grasp round the plank to which he had clung in the moment 
of the shock, but sense and the power of motion were fled ; and, 
from the situation in which the plank lay, partly grounded upon 
the beach, partly floating in the sea, there was every chance that 
it might be again washed off shore, in which case death was inevi- 
table. Just as he had made himself aware of these circumstances, 
Mordaunt beheld a huge wave advancing, and hastened to interpose 
his aid ere it burst, aware that the reflux might probably sweep away 
the sufferer. 



He rushed into the surf, and fastened on the body, with the same 
tenacity, though under a different impulse, witli that wherewith the 
hound seizes his prey. The strength of the retiring wave proved 
even greater than he had expected, and it was not without a struggle 
for his own hfe, as well as for that of the stranger, that Mordaunt 
resisted being swept off with the receding billow, when, though an 
adroit swimmer, the strength of the tide must either have dashed 
him against the rocks, or hurried him out to sea. He stood his 
ground, however, and ere another such billow had returned, he drew 
up, upon the small slip of dry sand, both the body of the stranger, 
and the plank to which he continued firmly attached. But how to 
save and to recall the means of ebbing life and strength, and "how 
to remove into a place of greater safety the sufferer, who was inca- 
pable of giving any assistance towards his own preservation, 
were questions which Mordaunt asked himself eagerly, but in vain. 

He looked to the summit of the cliff on which he had left his 
father, and shouted to him for his assistance ; but his eye could 
not distinguish his form, and his voice was only answered by the 
scream of the sea-birds. He gazed again on the sufferer. A dress 
richly laced, according to the fashion of the times, fine linen, and 
rings upon his fingers, evinced he was a man of superior rank ; 
and his features showed youth and comeliness, notwithstanding they 
were pallid and disfigured. He still breathed, but so feebly, that 
his respiration was almost imperceptible, and life seemed to keep 
such slight hold of his frame, that there was every reason to fear it 
would become altogether extinguished, unless it were speedily rein- 
forced. To loosen the handkerchief from his neck, to raise him 
with his face towards the breeze, to support him with his arms, was 
all that Mordaunt could do for his assistance, whilst he anxiously 
looked for some one who might- lend his aid in dragging the unfor- 
tunate to a more safe situation. 

At this moment he beheld a man advancing slowly and cautiously 
along the beach. He was in hopes, at first, it was his father, but 
instantly recollected that he had not had time to come round by 
the circuitous descent, to which he must necessarily have recourse, 
and besides, he saw that the man who approached him was shorter 
in stature. 

As he came nearer, Mordaunt was at no loss to recognise the 
pedlar whom the day before he had met with at Harfra, and who 
was known to him before upon many occasions. He shouted as 
loud as he could, " Bryce, hollo ! Bryce, come hither ! " But the 
merchant, intent upo^n picking up some of the spoils of the wreck, 
and upon dragging them out of reach of the tide, paid for some 
time little attention to his shouts. 


When he did at lengtli approach Mordaunt, it was not to lend 
him his aid, but to remonstrate with him on his rashness in under- 
taking the charitable office. " Are you mad ? " said he ; " you that 
have lived sae lang in Zetland, to risk the saving of a drowning 
man ? Wot ye not, if you bring him to life again, he will be sure 
to do you some capital injury ?*— Come, Master Mordaunt, bear a 
hand to what's mair to the purpose. Help me to get ane or twa 
of these kists ashore before any body else comes, and we shall 
share, like good Christians, what God sends us, and be thankful." 

Mordaunt was indeed no stranger to this inhuman superstition, 
current at a former period among the lower orders of the Zet- 
landers, and the more generally adopted, perhaps, that it served 
as an apology for refusing assistance to the unfortunate victims 
of shipwreck, while they made plunder of their goods. At any 
rate, the opinion, that to save a drowning man was to run the risk 
of future injury from him, formed a strange contradiction in the 
character of these islanders ; who, hospitable, generous, and dis- 
interested, on all other occasions, were sometimes, nevertheless, 
induced by this superstition, to refuse their aid in those mortal 
emergencies, which were so common upon their rocky and stormy 
coasts. We are happy to add, that the exhortation and example 
of the proprietors have eradicated even the traces of this inhuman 
belief, of which there might be some observed within the memory 
of those now alive. It is strange that the minds of men should 
have ever been hardened towards those involved in a distress to 
which they themselves were so constantly exposed ; but perhaps 
the frequent sight and consciousness of such danger tends to blunt 
the feelings to its consequences, whether affecting ourselves or 

Bryce was remarkably tenacious of this ancient belief; the more 
so, perhaps, that the mounting 'of his pack depended less upon the 
warehouses of Lerwick or Kirkwall, than on the consequences' of 
such a north-western gale as that of the day preceding ; for which 
(being a man who, in his own way, professed great devotion) he 
seldom failed to express his grateful thanks to Heaven. It was 
indeed said o^ him, that if he had .spent the same time in assisting 
the wrecked seamen, which he had employed in rifling their bales 
and boxes, he would have saved many lives, and lost much linen, 
He paid no sort of attention to the repeated entreaties of Mordaunt, 
although he was now upon the same slip of sand with him. It was 
well known to Bryce as a place on which the eddy was likely to land 
such spoils as the ocean disgorged ; and to improve the favourable 
moment, he occupied himself exclusively in securing and appro- 
priatmg whatever seemed most portable and of greatest value. At 


length Mordaunt saw the honest pedlar fix his views upon a strong 
sea-chest, framed of some Indian wood, well secured by brass plates, 
and seeming to be of a foreign construction. The stout lock re- 
sisted all Bryce's efforts to open it, until, with great composure, he 
plucked from his pocket a very neat hammer and chisel, and began 
forcing the hinges. 

Incensed beyond patience at his assurance, Mordaunt caught up 
a wooden stretcher which lay near him, and laying his charge softly 
on the sand, approached Bryce with a menacing gesture, and ex- 
claimed, " You cold-blooded, inhuman rascal ! either get up in- 
stantly and lend me your assistance to recover this man, and bear 
him out of danger from the surf, or I will not only beat you to 
a mummy on the spot, but inform Magnus Troil of your thievery, 
that he may hav& you flogged till your bones are bare, and then 
banish you from the Mainland ! " 

The lid of the chest had just sprung open as this rough address 
saluted Bryce's ears, and the inside presented a tempting view of 
wearing apparel for sea and land ; shirts, plain and with lace ruffles, 
a silver compass, a silver-hilted sword, and other valuable articles, 
which the pedlar well knew to be such as stir in the trade. He was 
half-disposed to start up, draw the sword, which was a cut-and- 
thrust, and " darraign battaile," as Spenser says, rather than quit his 
prize, or brook interruption. Being, though short, a stout square- 
made personage, and not much past the prime of life, having besides 
the better weapon, he might;have given Mordaunt more trouble than 
his benevolent knight-errtintry deserved. 

Already, as with vehemence he repeated his injunctions that 
Bryce should forbear his plunder, and come to the assistance of 
the dying man, the pedlar retorted with a voice of defiance, " Dinna 
swear, sir; dinna swear, sir — I will endure no swearing in my 
presence ; and if you lay a finger on me, that am taking the lawful 
spoil of the Egyptians, I will give ye a lesson ye shall remember 
from this day to Yule ! " 

Mordaunt would speedily have put the pedlar's courage to the 
test, but a voice behind him suddenly said, " Forbear ! " It was 
the voice of Noma of the Fitful-head, who, during the heat of their 
altercation, had approached them unobserved. " Forbear ! " she 
repeated ; " and Bryce, do thou render Mordaunt the assistance he 
requires. It shall avail thee more, and it is I who say the word, 
than all that you could earn to-day besides." 

" It is se'enteen hundred linen," said the pedlar, giving a tweak 
to one of the shirts, in that knowing manner with which matrons 
and judges ascertain the texture of the loom ; — " it's se'enteen 
hundred linen, and as strong as an it were dowlas. Nevertheless, 



mother, your bidding is to be done ; and I would have done Mr= 
Mordaunt's bidding too," he added, relaxing from his note of de- 
fiance into the deferential whining tone with which he cajoled his 
customers, " if he hadna made use of profane oaths, which made my 
very flesh grew, had caused me, in some sort, to forget myself." He 
then took a flask from his pocket, and approached the shipwrecked 
man. " It's the best of brandy," he said ; " and if that doesna cure 
him, I ken nought that will." So saying, he took a preliminary 
gulp himself, as if to show the quality of the liquor, and was about 
to put it to the man's mouth, when, suddenly withholding his hand, 
he looked at Noma — "You ensure me against all risk of evil from 
him, if I am to render him my help ? — Ye ken yoursell what folk 
say, mother." 

For all other answer. Noma took the bottle from the pedlar's 
hand, and began to chafe the temples and throat of the ship- 
wrecked man ; directing Mordaunt how to hold his head, so as to 
afford him the means of disgorging the sea-water which he had 
swallowed during his immersion. 

The pedlar looked on inactive for a moment, and then said, 
" To be sure there is not the same risk in helping him, now he is 
out of the water, and lying high and dry on the beach ; and, to be 
sure, the principal danger is to those that first touch him ; and, to 
be sure, it is a world's pity to see how these rings are pinching the 
puir creature's swalled fingers — they make his hand as blue as a 
partan's back before boiling." So saying, he seized one of the man's 
cold hands, which had just, by a tremulous motibn, indicated the 
return of life, and began his charitable work of removing the rings, 
which seemed to be of some value. 

" As you love your life, forbear," said Noma, sternly, " or I will 
lay that on you which shall spoil your travels through the 

" Now, for mercy's sake, mother, say nae mair about it," said the 
pedlar, " and I'll e'en do your pleasure in your ain way ! 1 did feel 
a rheumatize in my back-spauld yestreen ; and it wad be a sair 
thing for the like of me to be debarred my quiet walk round the 
country, in the way of trade — making the honest penny, and helping 
myself with what Providence sends on our coasts." 

" Peace, then," said the woman — " Peace, as thou wouldst not 
rue it ; and take this man on thy broad shoulders. His life is of 
value, and you will be rewarded." 

" I had muckle need," said the pedlar, pensively looking at the 
lidless chest, and the other matters which strewed the sand j " for 
he has contie between me and as muckle spreacherie as wad hae 
made a man of me for the rest of my life ; and now it maun lie here 


till the the next tide sweep it a' doun the Roost, after them that 
aught it yesterday morning." ' 

" Fear not," said Noma, " it will come to man's use. See, there 
come carrion-crows, of scent as keen as thine own." 

She spoke truly; for several of the people from the hamlet of Jarlshof 
were now hastening along the beach, to have their share in the spoil. 
The pedlar beheld them approach with a deep groan. " Ay, ay," 
he said, " the folk of Jarlshof, they will make clean wark ; they are 
kend for that far and wide ; they winna leave the value of a rotten 
ratlin ; and what's waur, there isna ane o'them has mense or sense 
eneugh to give thanks for the mercies when they have gotten them. 
There is the auld Ranzelman, Neil Ronaldson, that canna walk a 
mile to hear the minister, but he will hirple ten if he hears of a ship 

Noma, however, seemed to possess over him so complete an 
ascendency, that he no longer hesitated to take the man, who now 
gave strong symptoms of reviving existence, upon his shoulders ; 
and, assisted by Mordaunt, trudged along the sea-beach with his 
burden, without farther remonstrance. Ere he was borne bfif, the 
stranger pointed to the chest, and attempted to mutter something, 
to which Noma replied, " Enough. It shall be secured." 

Advancing towards the passage called Erick's Steps, by which 
they were to ascend the cliffs, they met the people from Jarlshof 
hastening in the opposite direction. Man and woman, as they 
passed, reverently made room for Noma, and saluted her — not 
without an expression of fear upon some of their faces. She passed 
them a few paces, and then turning back, called aloud to the 
Ranzelman, who (though the practice was more common than legal) 
was attending the rest of the hamlet upon this plundering expedi- 
tion. " Neil Ronaldson," she said, " mark my words. There 
stands yonder a chest, from which the lid has been just prized 
off. Look it be brought down to your own house at Jarlshof, just 
as it now is. Beware of moving or touching the slightest article. 
He were better in his grave that so much as looks at the contents. 
I speak not for nought, nor in aught will I be disobeyed." 

"Your pleasure shall be done, mother," said Ronaldson. "I 
warrant we will not break bulk, since sic is your bidding." 

Far behind the rest of the villagers, followed an old woman, 
talking to herself and cursing her own decrepitude, which kept her 
the last of the party, yet pressing forward with all her might to get 
her share of the spoil. 

When they met her, Mordaunt was astonished to recognise his 
father's old housekeeper. " How now," he said, " Swertha, what 
make you so far from home ? " 

G 2 



" Just e'en daikering out to look after my auld master and your 
honour," replied Swertha, who felt like a criminal caught in the 
manner ; for on more occasions than one, Mr. Mertoun had in- 
timated his high disapprobation of such excursions as she was at 
present engaged in." 

But Mordaunt was too much engaged with his own thoughts 
to take inuch notice of her delinquency. "Have you seen my 
father ? " he said. 

" And that I have," replied Swertha—" The gude gentleman was 
ganging to hu-sel himsell doun Erick's Steps, whilk would have 
been the ending of him, that is in no way a cragsman. Sae I e'en 
gat him wiled away hame — and I was just seeking you that you 
may gang after him to the hall-house, for to my thought ho is far 
frae weel." 

" My father unwell ? " said Mordaunt, remembering the faintness 
he had exhibited at the commencement of that morning's walk. 

""Far frae weel — far frae weel," groaned out Swertha, with a 
piteous shake of the head — " white o' the gills^-white o' the gills— 
and him to think of coming down the riva ! " 

" Return home, Mordaunt," said Noma, who was listening to 
what had passed. " I will see all that is necessary done for this 
man's relief, and you will find him at the Ranzelman's, when you 
list to enquire. You cannot help him more than you already have 

Mordaunt felt this was true, and, commanding Swertha to follow 
him instantly, betook himself to the path homeward. 

Swertha hobbled reluctantly after her young master in the same 
direction, until she lost sight of him on his entering the cleft of the 
rock -; then instantly turned about, muttering to herself, " Haste 
home, in good sooth ? — haste home, and lose the best chance of 
getting a new rokelay and owerlay that I have had these ten years ? 
by my certie, na — It's seldom sic rich godsends come on our shore 
— no since the Jenny and James came ashore in King Charlie's 

So saying, she mended her pace as well as she could, and, a 
willing mind making amends for frail limbs, posted on with wonder- 
ful dispatch to put in for her share of the spoil. She soon reached 
the beach, where the Ranzelman, stuffing his own pouches all the 
while, was exhorting the rest to part things fair, and be neighbourly, 
and to give to the auld and helpless a share of what was going, 
which, he charitably remarked, would bring a blessing^ on the 
shore, and send them " mair wrecks ere winter." * 



He was a lovely youth, I guess ; 
The panther in the wilderness 

Was not so fair as he ; 
And when he chose to sport -and play, 
No dolphin ever was so gay, 

Upon the tropic sea. 


The light foot of Mordaunt Mertoun was not long of bearing 
him to Jarlshof. He entered the house hastily, for what he him- 
self had observed that morning, corresponded in some degree with 
the ideas which Swertha's tale was calculated to excite. He found 
his father, however, in the inner apartment, reposing himself after 
his fatigue ; and his first question satisfied him that the good dame 
had practised a little imposition to get rid of them both. 

" Where is this dying man, whom you have so wisely ventured 
your own neck to relieve ? " said the elder Mertoun to the younger. 

" Noma, sir," replied Mordaunt, " has taken him under her 
charge ; she understands such matters." 

" And is quack as well as witch?" said the elder Mertoun. "With 
all my heart — it is a trouble saved. But I hasted home, on Swer- 
tha's hint, to look out for lint and bandages ; for her speech was of 
broken bones." 

Mordaimt kept silence, well knowing his father would not 
persevere in his enquiries upon such a matter, and not willing either 
to prejudice the old governante, or to excite his father to one of 
those excesses of passion into which he was apt to burst, when, 
contrary to his wont, he thought proper to correct the conduct of 
his domestic. 

It was late in the day ere old Swertha returned from her expe- 
dition, heartily fatigued, and bearing with her a bundle of some 
bulk, containing, it would seem, her share of the spoil. Mordaunt 
instantly sought her out, to charge her with the deceits she had 
practised on both his father and himself; but the accused matron 
lacked not her reply. 

" By her troth," she said, " she thought it was time to bid Mr. 
Mertoun gang hame and get bandages, when she had seen, with her 
ain twa een, Mordaunt ganging down the cliff like a wild-cat — it 
was to be thought broken bones would be the end, and lucky if 
bandages wad do any good ; — and, by lier troth, she might weel tell 
Mordaunt his father was puirly, and him looking sae white in the 


gills, (whilk, she wad die upon it, was the very word she used,) 
and it was a thing that couldna be denied by man at this very 

" But, Swertha," said Mordaunt, as soon as her clamorous defence 
gave him time to speak in reply, " how came you, that should have 
been busy with your housewifery and your spinning, to be out this 
morning at Erick's Steps, in order to take all this unnecessary care 
of my father and me ? — And what is in that bundle, Swertha ? for I 
fear, Swertha, you have been transgressing the law, and have been 
out upon the wrecking system." 

" Fair fa' your sonsy face, and the blessing of Saint Ronald upon 
you ! " said Swertha, in a tone betwixt coaxing and jesting ; "would 
you keep a puir body frae mending hersell, and sae muckle gear 
lying on the loose sand for the lifting ? — Hout, Maister Mordaunt, 
a ship ashore is a sight to wile the minister out of his very pu'pit in 
the middle of his preaching, muckle mair a puir auld ignorant wife 
frae her rock and her tow. And little did I get for my day's wark 
— just some rags o' cambric things, and a bit or twa of coorse claith, 
and sic like — the strong and the hearty get a' thing in this warld." 

" Yes, Swertha," replied Mordaunt, " and that is rather hard, as 
you must have your share of punishment in this world and the next, 
for robbing the poor mariners." 

" Hout, callant, wha wad punish an auld wife like me for a wheen 
duds ? — Folk speak muckle black ill of Earl Patrick ; but he was a 
freend to the shore, and made wise laws against ony body helping 
vessels that were like to gang on the breakers.* — And the mariners, 
I have heard Bryce Jagger say, lose their right frae the time keel 
touches sand ; and, moreover, they are dead and gane, poor souls 
— dead and gane, and care little about warld's wealth now — Nay, 
nae mair than the great Jarls and Sea-kings, in the Norse days, did 
about the treasures that they buried in the tombs and sepulchres 
auld langsyne. Did I ever tell you the sang, Maister Mordaunt, 
how Olaf Tryguarson garr'd hide five gold crowns in the same grave 
with him ? " 

" No, Swertha,'' said Mordaunt, who took pleasure in tormenting 
the cunning old plunderer — " you never told me that ; but I tell 
you, that the stranger whom Noma has taken down to the town, 
will be well enough to-morrow, to ask where you have hidden the 
goods that you have stolen from the wreck." 

" But wha will tell him a word about it, hinnie .' " said Swertha, 
looking slyly up in her young master's face—" The mair by token, 
since I maun tell ye, that I have a bonny remnant of silk amang 
the lave, that will make a dainty waistcoat to yoursell, the first 
merry-making ye gang to." 


Mordaunt could no longer forbear laughing at the cunning with 
which the old dame proposed to bribe off his evidence by impart- 
ing a portion of her plunder ; and, desiring her to get ready what 
provision she had made for dinner, he returned to his father, whom 
he found still sitting in the same place, and nearly in the same 
posture, in which he had left him. 

When their hasty and frugal meal was finished, Mordaunt an- 
nounced to his father his purpose of going down to the town, or 
hamlet, to look after the shipwrecked sailor. 

The elder Mertoun assented with a nod. 

" He must be ill accommodated there, sir," added his son, — a 
hint which only produced another nod of assent. " He seemed, 
from his appearance," pursued Mordaunt, " to be of very good rank 
— and admitting these poor people do their best to receiye him, in 
his present weak state, yet " 

" I know what you would say," said his father, interrupting him ; 
" we, you think, ought to do something towards assisting him. Go 
to him, then — if he lacks money, let him name the sum, and he 
shall have it ; but, for lodging the stranger here, and holding inter- 
course with him, I neither can, nor will do so. I -have retired to 
this farthest extremity of the British isles, to avoid new friends, and 
new faces, and none such shall intrude on me either their happiness 
or their misery. When you have known the world half a score of 
years longer, your early friends will have given you reason to re- 
member them, and to avoid new ones for the rest of your life. Go 
then — why do you stop ? — rid the country of the man — let me see 
no one about me but those vulgar countenances, the extent and 
character of whose petty knavery I know, and can submit to, as to 
an evil too trifling to cause irritation." He then threw his purse to 
his son, and signed to him to depart with all speed. 

Mordaunt was not long before he reached the village. In the 
dark abode of Neil Ronaldson, the Ranzelman, he found the 
stranger seated by the peat-fire, upon the very chest which had ex- 
cited the cupidity of the devout Bryce Snailsfoot, the pedlar. The 
Ranzelman himself was absent, dividing, with all due impartiality, 
the spoils of the wrecked vessel amongst the natives of the com- 
munity ; listening to and redressing their complaints of inequality ; 
and (if the matter in hand had not been, from beginning to end, 
utterly unjust and indefensible) discharging the part of a wise and 
prudent magistrate, in all the details. For at this time, and pro- 
bably until a much later period, the lower orders of the islanders 
entertained an opinion, common to barbarians also in the same 
situation, that whatever was cast on their shores, became their in- 
disputable property. 


Margery Bimbister, the worthy spouse of the Ranzehnan, was in 
the charge of the house, and introduced Mordaunt to her guest, 
saying, with no great ceremony, " This is the young tacksman— 
You will maybe tell him your name, though you will not tell it to 
us. If it had not been for his four quarters, it's but little you would 
have said to any body, sae lang as life lasted." 

The stranger arose, and shook Mordaunt by the hand ; observ- 
ing, he understood that he had been the means of saving his hfe 
and his chest. " The rest of the property," he said, " is, I see, 
walking the plank ; for they are as busy as the devil in a gale of 

"And what was the use of your seamanship, then,'' said Mar- 
gery, " that you couldna keep off the Sumburgh-head ? It would 
have been lang ere Sumburgh-head had come to you." 

" Leave us for a moment, good Margery Bimbister," said Mor- 
daunt ; " I wish to have some private conversation with this 

" Gentleman ! " said Margery, with an emphasis ; " not but the 
man is well enough to look at," she added, again surveying him, 
" but I doubt if there is muckle of the gentleman about him." 

Mordaunt looked at the stranger, and was of a different opinion. 
He was rather above the middle size, and formed handsomely as 
well as strongly. Mordaunt's intercourse with society was not ex- 
tensive ; but he thought his new acquaintance, to a bold sunburnt 
handsome countenance, which seemed to have faced various 
climates, added the frank and open manners of a sailor. He 
answered cheerfully the enquiries which Mordaunt made after his 
health ; and maintained that one night's rest would relieve him 
from all the effects of the disaster he had sustained. But he spoke 
with bitterness of the avarice and curiosity of the Ranzelman and 
his spouse. 

" That chattering old woman," said the stranger, " has perse- 
cuted me the whole day for the name of the ship. I think she 
might be contented with the share she has had of it. I was the 
principal owner of the vessel that was lost yonder, and they have 
left me nothing but my wearing apparel. Is there no magistrate, 
or justice of the peace, in this wild country, that would lend a hand 
to help one when he is among the breakers ? " 

Mordaunt mentioned Magnus Troil, the principal proprietor, as 
well as the Fowd, or provincial judge, of the district, as the person 
from whom he was most likely to obtain redress ; and regretted 
that his own youth, and his father's situation as a retired stranger, 
should put it out of their power to afford him the protection he 


" Nay, for your part, you have done enough," , said the sailor ; 
" but if r had five out of the forty brave fellows that are fishes' food 
by this time, the devil a man would I ask to do me the right that I 
could do for myself ! " 

"Forty hands!" said Mordaunt ; "you were well manned for 
the size of the ship." 

" Not so well as we needed to be. We mounted ten guns, besides 
chasers ; but our cruise on the main had thinned us of men, and 
lumbered us up with goods. Six of our guns were in ballast — Hands ! 
if I had had enough of hands, we would never have miscarried so 
infernally. The people were knocked up with working the pumps, 
and so took to their boats, and left me with the vessel, to sink or 
swim. But the dogs had their pay, and I can afford to pardon them 
— The boats swamped in the current— all were lost — and here am I ." 

" You had come north about then, from the West Indies .■' " said 

"Ay, ay ; the vessel was the Good Hope of Bristol, a letter of 
marque. She had fine luck down on the Spanish main, both with 
commerce and privateering, but the luck's ended with her now. 
My name is Clement Cleveland, captain, and part owner, as I said 
before — I am a Bristol man born — my father was well known on 
the ToUsell — old Clem Cleveland of the College-green." 

Mordaunt had no right to enquire farther, and yet it seemed to 
him as if his own mind was but half satisfied. There was an affecta- 
tion of bluntness, a sort of defiance, in the manner of the stranger, 
for which circumstances afforded no occasion. Captain Cleveland 
had suffered injustice from the islanders, but from Mordaunt he 
had only received kindness and protection ; yet he seemed as if he 
involved all the neighbourhood in the wrongs he complained of 
Mordaunt looked down and was silent, doubting whether it would 
be better to take his leave, or to proceed farther in his offers of 
assistance. Cleveland seemed to guess at his thoughts, for he 
immediately added, in a conciliating manner, — " I am a plain man. 
Master Mertoun, for that I understand is your name ; and I am a 
ruined man to boot, and that does not mend one's good manners. 
But you have done a kind and friendly part by me, and it may be 
I think as much of it as if I thanked you more. And so before I 
leave this place, I'll give you my fowlingpiece ; she will put a 
hundred swan-shot through a Dutchman's cap at eighty paces — 
sh^ will carry ball too — I have hit a wild bull within a hundred- 
and-fifty yards — but I have two pieces that are as good, or better, 
so you may keep this for my sake." 

" That would be to take my share of the wreck," answered 
Mordaunt, laughing. 


" No such matter," said Cleveland, undoing a case which con- 
tained several guns and pistols, — " you see I have saved my private 
arm-chest, as well as my clothes — that the, tall old woman in the 
dark rigging managed for me-. And, between ourselves, it is worth 
all I have lost ; for," he added, lowering his voice, and looking 
round, " when I speak of being ruined in the hearing of these land- 
sharks, I do not mean ruined stock and block. No, here is some- 
thing will do more than shoot sea-fowl." So saying, he pulled out 
a great ammunition-pouch marked swan-shot, and showed Mor- 
daunt, hastily, that it was full of Spanish pistoles and Portagues 
(as the broad Portugal pieces were then called.) " No, no," he 
added, with a smile, "I have ballast enough to trim the vessel again ; 
and now, will you take the piece ? " 

" Since you are willing to give it me," said Mordaunt, laughing, 
'' with all my heart. I was just going to ask you in my father's 
name," he added, showing his purse, " whether you wanted any of 
that same ballast." 

" Thanks, but you see I am provided — take my old acquaintance, 
and may she serve you as well as she has served me ; but you will 
never make so good a voyage with her. You can shoot, I 
suppose ? " 

" Tolerably well," said Mordaunt, admiring the piece, which was 
a beautiful Spanish-barrelled gun, inlaid with gold, small in the 
bore, and of unusual length, such as is chiefly used for shooting 
sea-fowl, and for ball-practice. 

" With slugs," continued the donor, " never gun shot closer ; and 
•with single ball, you may kill a seal two hundred yards at sea from 
the top of the highest peak of this iron-bound coast of yours. But 
I tell you again, that the oldj'attler will never do you the service' 
she has done me." 

" I shall not use her so dexterously, perhaps," said Mordaunt. 

" Umph ! — perhaps not," replied Cleveland ; " but that is not the 
question. What say you to shooting the man at the wheel, just as 
' we run aboard of a Spaniard ? So the Don was taken aback, and 
we laid him athwart the hawse, and carried her cutlass in hand ; 
and worth the while she was — stout brigantine — El Santo Fran- 
cisco — bound for Porto B'ello, with gold and negroes. That little 
bit of lead was worth twenty thousand pistoles." 

" I have shot at no such game as yet," said Mordaunt. 

" Well, all in good time ; we cannot weigh till the tide makes. 
But you are a tight, handsome, active young man. What is to ail 
you to take a trip after some of this stuff?" laying his hand on the 
bag of gold. 

" My father talks of my travelling soon," replied Mordaunt, who. 


bom to hold men-of-wars-men in great respect, felt flattered by this 
invitation from one who appeared a thorough-bred seaman. 

" I respect him for the thought," said the Captain ; " and I will 
visit him before I weigh anchor. I have a consort off these islands, 
and be cursed to her. She'll find me out somewhere, though she 
parted company in a bit of a squall, unless she has gone to Davy 
Jones too. — Well, she was better found than we, and not so deep 
loaded — she must have weathered it. We'll have a hammock 
slung for you aboard, and make a sailor and a man of you in the 
same trip." 

" I should like it well enough," said Mordaunt, who eagerly 
longed to see more of the world than his lonely situation had 
hitherto permitted ; " but then my father must decide." 

" Your father ? pooh ! " said Captain Cleveland ; — " but you are 
very right," he added, checking himself ; " Gad, I have lived so long 
at sea, that I cannot imagine anybody has a right to think except 
the captain and the master. But you are very right. I will go up to 
the old gentleman this instant, and speak to him myself. He lives 
in that handsome, modern-looking building, I suppose, that I see 
a quarter of a mile off? " 

" In that old half-ruined house," said Mordaunt, " he does indeed 
live ; but he will see no visitors." 

" Then you must drive the point yourself, for I can't stay in 
this latitude. Since your father is no magistrate, I must go to 
see this same Magnus — how call you him ? — who is not justice of 
peace, but something else that will do the turn as well. These 
fellows have got two or three things that I must and will have back 
— let them keep the rest and be d — d to them. Will you give me 
a letter to him, just by way of commission ? " 

" It is scarce needful," said Mordaunt. " It is enough that you 
are shipwrecked, and need his help ;— but yet I may as well furnish 
you with a letter of introduction." 

" There," said the sailor, producing a writing-case from his chest, 
" are your writing-tools. — Meantime, since bulk has been broken, I 
will nail down the hatches, and make sure of the cargo." 

While Mordaunt, accordingly, was engaged in writing to Magnus - 
Troil a letter, setting forth the circumstances in which Captain 
Cleveland had been thrown upon their coast, the Captain, having 
first selected and laid aside some wearing apparel and necessaries 
enough to fill a knapsack, took in hand hammer and nails, em- 
ployed himself in securing the lid of his sea-chest, by fastening it 
down in a workmanlike manner, and then added the corroborating 
security of a cord, twisted and knotted with nautical dexterity. 
" I leave this in your charge," he said, " all except this," showing 


the bag of gold, " and these," pointing to a cutlass and pistols, 
"which may prevent all further risk of my parting company with 
my Portagues." 

" You will find no occasion for weapons in this country, Captain 
Cleveland," replied Mordaunt ; " a child might travel with a purse 
of gold from Sumburgh-head to the Scaw of Unst, and no soul 
would injure him." 

" And that's pretty boldly said, young gentleman, considering 
what is going on without doors at this moment." 

" O," replied Mordaunt, a little confused, " what comes on land 
with the tide, they reckon their lawful property. One would think 
they had studied under Sir Arthegal, who pronounces — 

' For equal right in equal things doth stand, 

And what the mighty sea hath once possess'd. 

And plucked quite from all possessors' hands, 
Or else by wrecks that wretches have distress'd. 

He may dispose, by his resistless might, 
As things at random left, to whom he lists.' " 

" I shall think the better of plays and ballads as long as I live, 
for these very words," said Captajin Cleveland ; " and yet I have 
loved them well enough in my day. But this is good doctrine, and 
more men than one may trim their sails to such a breeze. What 
the sea sends is ours, that's sure enough. However, in case that 
your good folks should think the land as well as the sea may 
present them with waifs and strays, I will make bold to take my 
cutlass and pistols. — Will you cause my chest to be secured in your 
own house till you hear from me, and use your influence to procure 
me a guide to show me the way, and to carry my kit ? " 

" Will you go by sea or land ?" said Mordaunt, in reply. 

" By sea ! " exclaimed Cleveland. " What — in one of these 
cockleshells, and a cracked cockleshell to boot? No, no — land, 
land, unless I knew my crew, my vessel, and my voyage." 

They parted accordingly. Captain Cleveland being supplied with 
a guide to conduct him to Burgh-Westra, and his chest being care- 
fully removed to the mansion-house at Jarlshof. 



This is a gentle trader, and a prudent. 

He's no Autolycus, to blear your eye, 

With quips of worldly gauds and gamesomeness ; 

But seasons all his glittering merchandise 

With wholesome doctrines, suited to the use, 

As men sauce goose with sage and rosemary. 

Old Play. 

On the subsequent morning, Mordaunl, in answer to his father's 
enquiries, began to give him some account of the shipwrecked 
mariner, whom he had rescued from the waves. But he had not 
proceeded far in recapitulating the particulars which Cleveland had 
communicated, when Mr. Mertoun's looks became disturbed — he 
arose hastily, and, after pacing twice or thrice across the room, he 
retired into the inner chamber, to which he usually confined him- 
self, while under the influence of his mental malady. In the even- 
ing he re-appeared, without any traces of his disorder ; but it may 
be easily supposed that his son avoided recurring to the subject 
which had affected him. 

Mordaunt Mertoun was thus left without assistance, to form 
at his leisure his own opinion respecting the new acquaintance 
which the sea had sent him ; and, upon the whole, he was him- 
self surprised to find the result less favourable to the stranger 
than he could well account for. There seemed to Mordaunt to 
be a sort of repelling influence about the man. True, he was a 
handsome man, of a frank and prepossessing manner, but there 
was an assumption ,of superiority about him, which Mordaunt 
did not' quite so much like. Although he was so keen a sports- 
man as to be delighted with his acquisition of the Spanish' 
barrelled gun, and accordingly mounted and dismounted it with 
great interest, paying the utmost attention to the most minute 
parts about the lock and ornaments, yet he was, upon the whole, 
inclined to have some scruples about the mode in which he had 
acquired it. 

" I should not have accepted it," he thought ; " perhaps Cap- 
tain Cleveland might give it me as a sort of payment for the 
trifling service I did him ; and yet it would have been churlish 
to refuse it in the way it was offered. I wish he had looked 
more like a man whom one would have chosen to be obliged to." 

But a successful day's shooting reconciled him to his gun, and he 
became? assured, like most young sportsmen in similar circum- 


Stances, that all other pieces were but pop-guns in comparison. 
But then, to be doomed to shoot gulls and seals, when there were 
Frenchmen and Spaniards to be come at — when there were ships 
to be boarded, and steersmen to be marked off, seemed but a dull 
and contemptible destiny. His father had mentioned his leaving 
these islands, and no other mode of occupation occurred to his 
inexperience, save that of the sea, with which he had been conver- 
sant from his infancy. His ambition had formerly aimed no higher 
than at sharing the- fatigues and dangers of a Greenland fishing 
expedition ; for it was in that scene that the Zetlanders laid most 
of their perilous adventures. But war was again raging, the history 
' of Sir Francis Drake, Captain Morgan, and other bold adventurers, 
an account of whose exploits he had purchased from Bryce Snails- 
foot, had made much impression on his mind, and the offer of 
Captain Cleveland to take him to sea, frequently recurred to him, 
although the pleasure of such a project was somewhat damped by 
a doubt, whether, in the long run, he should not find many objec- 
tions to his proposed commander. Thus much he already saw, 
that he was opinionative, and might probably prove arbitrary; and 
that, since even his kindness was mingled with an assumption of 
superiority, his occasional displeasure might contain a great deal 
more of that disagreeable ingredient than could be palatable to 
those who sailed under him. And yet, after counting all risks, 
could his father's consent be obtained, with what pleasure, he 
thought, would he embark in quest of new scenes and strange 
adventures, in which he proposed to himself to achieve such deeds 
as should be the theme of many a tale to the lovely sisters of 
Burgh-Westra— tales at which Minna should weep, and Brenda 
should smile, and both should marvel ! And this was to be the 
reward of his labours and his dangers ; for the hearth of Magnus 
Troil had a magnetic influence over his thoughts, and however 
they might traverse amid his day-dreams, it was the point where 
they finally settled. 

There were times when Mordaunt thought of mentioning to his 
father the conversation he had held with Captain Cleveland, and 
the seaman's proposal to him; but the very short and general 
account which he had given of that person's history, upon the 
morning after his departure from the hamlet, had produced a sinister 
effect on Mr. Mertoun's mind, and discouraged him from speaking 
farther on any subject connected with it. It would be time enough, 
he thought, to mention Captain Cleveland's proposal, when his 
consort should arrive, and when he should repeat his offer in a more 
formal manner ; and these he supposed events likely very soon to 


But clays grew to weeks, and ,weeks were numbered into months, 
and he heard nothing from Cleveland ; and only learned by an 
occasional visit from Bryce Snailsfoot, that the Captain was resid- 
ing at Burgh-Westra, as one of the family. Mordaunt was some- 
what surprised at this, although the unlimited hospitality of the 
islands, which Magnus Troil, both from fortune and disposition, 
carried to the utmost extent, made it almost a matter of course 
that he should remain in the family until he disposed of himself 
otherwise. Still it seemed strange he had not gone to some 
of the northern isles to enquire after his consort ; or that he did 
not rather choose to make Lerwick his residence, where fishing 
vessels often brought news from the coasts and ports of Scotland 
and Holland. Again, why did he not send for the chest he had 
deposited at Jarlshof ? and still farther, Mordaunt thought it would 
have been but polite if the stranger had sent him some sort of 
message in token of remembrance. 

These subjects of reflection were connected with another stiU 
more unpleasant, and more difficult to account for. Until the 
arrival of this person, scarce a week had passed without bringing 
him some kind greeting, or token of recollection, from Burgh- 
Westra ; and pretences were scarce ever wanting for maintaining a 
constant intercourse. Minna wanted the words of a Norse ballad; 
or desired to have, for her various collections, feathers, or eggs, or 
shells, or specimens of the rarer sea-weeds ; or Brenda sent a 
riddle to be resolved, or a song to be learned ; or the honest old 
Udaller, — in a rude manuscript, which might have passed for an 
ancient Runic inscription, — sent his hearty greetings to his good 
young friend, with a present of something to make good cheer, and 
an earnest request he would come to Burgh-Westra as soon, and 
stay there as long, as possible. These kindly tokens of remem- 
brance were often sent by special message ; besides which, there was 
never a passenger or a traveller, who crossed from the one mansion 
to the other, who did not bring to Mordaunt some friendly greeting 
from the Udaller and his family. Of late, this intercourse had 
become more and more infrequent ; and no messenger from Burgh- 
Westra had visited Jarlshof for several weeks. Mordaunt both 
observed and felt this alteration and it dwelt on his mind, while he 
questioned Bryce as closely as pride and prudence would permit, to 
ascertain, if possible, the cause of the change. Yet he endeavoured 
to assume an indifferent air while he asked the jagger whether 
there were no news in the country. 

" Great news," the jagger replied ; " and a gay mony of them. 
That crackbrained carle, the new factor, is making a change in the 
bismars and the lispunds ; * and our worthy Fowd, Magnus Troil, 


has sworn, that, sooner than change them for the still-yard, or 
aught else, he'll fling Factor Yellowley from Brasga-craig." 

" Is that all ? " said Mordaunt, very little interested. 

" All ? and eneugh, I think," replied the pedlar. " How are 
folks to buy and sell, if the weights are changed on them ? " 

" Very true," replied Mordaunt ; " but have you heard of no 
strange vessels on the coast ? " 

" Six Dutch doggers off Brassa ; and, as I hear, a high-quartered 
galliot thing, with a gaff mainsail, lying in Scalloway Bay. She 
will be from Norway." 

"No ships of war, or sloops?" 

" None," replied the pedlar, " since the Kite Tender sailed with 
the impress men. If it was His will, and our men were out of her, 
I wish the deep sea had her ! " 

" Were there no news at Burgh-Westra ? — Were the family all 
well ? " 

" A' weel, and weel to do — out-taken, it may be, something ower 
muckle daffing and laughing — dancing ilk night, they say, wi' the 
stranger captain that's living there — him that was ashore on Sum- 
burgh-head the tother day, — less daffing served him then." 

" Daffing ! dancing every night ! " said Mordaunt, not particu- 
larly well satisfied — " Whom does Captain Cleveland dance 
with ? " 

" Ony body he likes, I fancy," said the jagger ; " at ony rate, he 
gars a' body yonder dance after his fiddle. But I ken little about 
it, for I am no free in conscience to look upon thae flinging fancies. 
Folk should mind that iife is made but of rotten yarn." 

" I fancy that it is to keep them in mind of that wholesome truth, 
that you deal in such tender wares, Bryce," replied Mordaunt, 
dissatisfied as well with the tenor of the reply, as with the affected 
scruples of the respondent. 

'' That's as muckle as to say, that I suld hae minded you v/as a 
flinger and a fiddler yoursell, Maister Mordaunt ; but I am an 
auld man, and maun unburden my conscience. But ye will be for 
the dance, I sail warrant, that's to be at Burgh-Westra, on John's 
Even, 'ySaunt John's, as the blinded creatures ca' him,) and nae 
doubt ye will be for some warldly braws — hose, waistcoats, or sic 
like ? I hae pieces frae Flanders " — With that he placed his 
moveable warehouse on the table, and began to unlock it. 

" Dance ! " repeated Mordaunt — " Dance on St. John's Even?— 
Were you desired to bid me to it, Bryce ? " 

" Na — but ye ken weel eneugh ye wad be welcome, bidden or no 
bidden. This captain— how ca' ye him ? — is to be skudler, as they 
ca't— the first of the gang, like." 


" The devil take him ! " said Mordaunt, in impatient surprise. 

" A' in gude time," replied the jagger ; " hurry no man's cattle— 
the devil wiiy^ae his due, I warrant ye, or it winna be for lack of 
seeking. But it's true I'm telling you, for a' ye stare like a wild 
cat ; and this same captain, — I watna his name, — bought ane of 
the very waistCQats tliat I am ganging to show ye — purple, wi' 
a gowd- binding, and bonnily broidered ; and I have a piece for 
you, the neighbour of it, wi' a green grund ; and if ye' mean to 
streek yoursell up beside him, ye maun e'en buy it, for it's gowd 
that glances in the lasses' een now-a-days. See — look till't," he 
added, displaying the pattern in various points of view : " look 
till it through the light, and till the light through it—wV the 
grain, andi against the grain — it shows ony gate — cam frae 
Antwerp a' the gate — four dollars is the price ; and yon captain 
was sae weel pleased that he flang down a twenty shilling Jaco- 
bus, and bade me keep the change and be d — d ! — poor silly 
profane creature, I pity him." 

Without enquiring whether the pedlar bestowed his compas- 
sion on the worldly imprudence or the religious deficiencies of 
Captain Cleveland, Mordaunt turned from him, folded his arms, 
and paced the apartment, muttering to himself, " Not asked — ^A 
stranger to be king of the feast ! " — Words which he reoeated so 
earnestly, that Bryce caught a part of their import. 

" As for asking, I am almaist bauld to say, that ye will be asked, 
Maister Mordaunt." 

"Did they mention my name, then?" said Mordaunt. 

" I canna preceesely say that," said Bryce Snailsfoot ;— " but ye 
needna turn away your head sae sourly, like a sealgh when he 
leaves the shore ; for, do you see, I heard distinctly that a' the 
revellers about are to be there ; and is't to be thought they would 
leave out you, an auld kend freend, and the lightest foot at sic 
frolics (Heaven send you a better praise in His ain gude time !) 
that ever flang at a fiddle-squeak, between this and Unst .? Sae 
I consider ye altogether the same as invited — and ye had best 
provide yourself wi' a waistcoat, for brave and brisk will every man 
be that's there — the Lord pity them ! " 

He thus continued to foUow with his green glazen eyes the 
motions of young Mordaunt Mertoun, who was pacing the room in 
a very pensive manner, which the jagger probably misinterpreted, 
as he thought, like Claudio, that if a man is sad, it must needs be 
because he lacks money. Bryce, therefore, after another pause, 
thus accosted him. " Ye needna be sad about the matter, Maister 
Mordaunt ; for although I got the just price of the article from the 
captain-man, yet I maun deal freendly wi' you, as a Jsend freend and 



customer, and bring the price, as they say, within your purse-mouth 
— or it's the same to me to let it lie ower till Martinmas, or e'en to 
Candlemas. I am decent in the warld, Maister Mordaunt— forbid 
that I should hurry ony body, far mair a freend that has paid me 
siller afore now. Or I wad be content to swap the garment for the 
value in feathers or sea-otters' skins, or ony kind of peltrie — nane 
kens better than yoursell how to come by sic ware — and I am sure 
I hae furnished you wi' the primest o' powder. I dinna ken if I 
tell'd ye it was out o' the kist of Captain Plunket, that perished on 
the Scaw of Unst, wi' the armed brig Mary, sax years syne. He 
was a prime fowler himself, and luck it was that the kist came 
ashore dry. I sell that to nane but gude marksmen. And so, I 
was saying, if ye had ony wares yelikedjto coup* for the waistcoat, 
I wad be ready to trock wi' you, for assuredly ye will be wanted 
at Burgh- Westra, on Saint John's Even ; and ye wadna like to look 
waur than the Captain— that wadna be setting." 

" I will be there at least, whether wanted or not," said Mordaunt, 
stopping short in his walk, and taking the waistcoat-piece hastily 
out of the pedlar's hand : " and. as you say, will not disgrace 

" Hand a care— haud a care, Maister Mordaunt," exclaimed the 
pedlar ; " ye handle it as it were a bale of course wadmaal— ye'll 
fray't to bits — ye might weel say my ware is tender — and ye'll mind 
the price is four dollars— sail I put ye in my book for it ?" 

" No," said Mordaunt hastily ; and, taking out his purse, he flung 
down the money. 

" Grace to ye to wear the garment," said the joyous pedlar, '' and 
to me to guide the siller ; and protect us from earthly vanities, and 
earthly covetousness ; and send you the white linen raiment, whilk 
is mair to be desired than the muslins, and cambrics, and lawns, 
and silks of this world j and send me the talents which avail more 
than much fine Spanish gold, or Dutch dollars either — and — but 
God guide the callant, what for is he wrapping the silk up that 
gate, like a whisp of hay ? " 

At this moment, old Swertha the housekeeper entered, to whom, 
as if eager to get rid of the subject, Mordaunt threw his purchase, 
with something like careless disdain ; and, telling her to put it aside, 
snatched his gun, which stood in the corner, threw his shooting 
accoutrements about him, and, without noticing Bryce's attempt to 
enter into conversation upon the " braw seal-skin, as saft as doe- 
leather," which made the sling and cover of his fowling-piece, he, 
left the apartment abruptly. 

The jagger, with those green, goggling, and gain-descrying kind 
of optics, which we have already described, continued gazing for an 


instant after the customer, who treated his wares with such irre- 

Swertha also looked after him with some surprise. " The callant's 
in a creel," quoth ^he. 

" In a creel ! " echoed the pedlar ; " he will be as wowf as ever 
his father was. To guide in that gate a bargain that cost him four 
dollars ! — ^very, very Fifish, as the east-country fisher-folk say," 

'• Four dollars for that green rag ! " said Swertha, catching at the 
words which the jagger had unwarily suffered to escape — " that was 
a bargain indeed ! I wonder whether he is the greater fule, or you 
the mair rogue, Pryce Snailsfoot." 

" I didna say it cost him preceesely four dollars,'' said Snailsfoot ; 
" but if It had, the lad's siller's his ain, I hope ; and he is auld 
eneugh to make his ain bargains, Mair by token the gudes are 
weel worth the money, and mair," 

" Mair by token," said Swertha, coolly, " I will see what his father 
thinks about it," 

"Ye'll no be sae ill-natured, Mrs Swertha," said the jagger; 
" that will be but cauld thanks for the bonny owerlay that I hae 
brought you a' the way frae Lerwick." 

" And a bonny price ye'll be setting on't," said Swertha j " for 
that's the gate your good deeds end," 

,jYe sail liae the fixing of the price yourseU ; or it may lie ower 
till ye're buying something for the house, or for your master, and 
it can make a' ae count," 

" Troth, and that's true, Bryce Snailsfoot, I am thinking we'll 
want some napery sune — for it's no to be thought we can spin, and 
the like, as if there was a mistress in the house j and sae we mak 
nane at hame," 

" And that's what I ca' walking by the word," said the jagger, 
" ' Go unto those that buy and sell ; ' there's muckle profit in that 

" There is a pleasure in dealing wi' a discreet man, that can make 
profit of onything," said Swertha; "and now that I take another 
look at that daft callant's waistcoat piece, I think it is honestly 
tvorth four dollars." 

H 2 



I have possessed the regulation of the weather and the distrihu- 
tion of the seasons. The sun has listened to my dictates, and 
passed from tropic to tropic by my direction ; the clouds, at my 
command, have poured forth their waters. 


Any sudden cause for anxious and mortifying reflection, which, 
in advanced age, occasions suUen and pensive inactivity, stimulates 
youth to eager and active exertion ; as if, like the hurt deer, they 
endeavoured to drovm the pain of the shaft by the rapidity of 
motion. When Mordaunt caught up his gun, and rushed out of 
the house of Jarlshof, he walked on with great activity over waste 
and wild, without any determined purpose, except that of escaping, 
if possible, from the smart of his own irritation. His pride was 
effectually mortified by the report of the jagger, which coincided 
exactly with some doubts he had been led to entertain, by the long 
and unkind silence of his friends at Burgh- Westra. 

If the fortunes of Csesar had doomed him, as the poet suggests, 
to have been 

" But the best wrestler on the green," 

it Is nevertheless to be presumed, that a foil from a rival, in that 
rustic exercise, would have mortified him as much as a defeat from 
a competitor, when he was struggling for the empery of the world. 
And even so Mordaimt Mertoun, degraded in his own eyes 
from the heigl-, jsfhich he had occupied as the chief amongst the 
youth of the island, felt vexed and irritated, as well as humbled.^ 
The two beautiful^ sisters, also, whose smiles all were so desirous of 
acquiring, with whom he had lived on terms of such famihar affec- 
tion, that, with the same ease and innocence, there was un- 
consciously mixed a shade of deeper though undefined tenderness 
than characterises fraternal love, — they also seemed to have for- 
gotten him. He could not be ignorant, that, in the universal 
opinion of all Dunrossness, nay, of the whole Mainland, he might 
have had every chance of being the favoiu-ed lover of either ; and 
now at once, and without any failure on his part, he was become so 
little to them, that he had lost even the consequence of an ordinary 
acquaintance. The old Udaller, too, whose hearty and sincere 
character should have made him more constant in his friendships, 
seemed to have been as fickle as his daughters, and poor Mordaunt 


had at once lost the smiles of the fair, and the favour of the power- 
ful. These were uncomfortable reflections, and he doubled his pace, 
that he might outstrip them if possible. 

Without exactly reflecting upon the route which he pursued, 
Mordaunt walked briskly on through a country where neither hedge, 
•wall, nor enclosure of any kind, interrupts the steps of the wanderer, 
until he reached a very solitary spot, where, embosomed among 
steep heathy hills, which sunk suddenly down on the verge of the 
water, lay one of those small fresh-water lakes which are common 
in the Zetland isles, whose outlets form the sources of the small 
brooks and rivulets by which the country is watered, and serve to 
drive the little mills which manufacture their grain. 

It was a mild summer day ; the beams of the sun, as is not un- 
common in Zetland, were moderated and shaded by a silvery haze, 
which filled the atmosphere, and destroying the strong contrast 
of light and shade, gave even to noon the sober livery of the 
evening twilight. The little lake, not three-quarters of a mile in 
circuit, lay in profound quiet ; its surface undimpled, save when one 
of the numerous water-fowl, which glided on its surface, dived for 
an instant under it. The depth of the water gave the whole that 
cerulean tint of bluish green, which occasdoned its being called the 
Green Loch ; and at present, it formed so perfect a mirror to the 
bleak hills by which it was surrounded, and which lay reflected on 
its bosom, that it was difficult to distinguish the water from the 
land; nay, in the shadowy uncertainty occasioned by the thiniiaze, 
a stranger could scarce have been sensible that a sheet of water lay 
before him. A scene of more complete solitude, having all its 
peculiarities heightened by the extreme serenity of the weather, 
the quiet grej composed tone of the atmosphere, and the perfect 
silence of the elements, could hardly be imagined. The very 
aquatic birds, who frequented the spot in great numbers, forebore 
their usual flight and screams, and floated in profound tranquillity 
upon the silent water.' 

Without taking any determined aim — without having any de- 
termined purpose — without almost thinking what he was about, 
Mordaunt presented his fowlingpiece, and fired across the lake. 
The large swan-shot dimpled its surface like a partial shower of 
hail— the hills took up the noise of the report, and repeated it 
again, and again, and again, to all their echoes ; the waterfowl 
took to wing in eddying and confused wheel, answering the echoes 
with a thousand varying screams, from the deep note of the swabie, 
or swartback, to the querulous cry of the tirracke and kittiewake. 

Mordaunt looked for a moment on the clamorous crowd with a 
feeling of resentment, which he felt disposed at the moment to 


apply to all nature, and all her objects, animate or inanimate, how- 
ever little concerned with the cause of his internal mortification. 

" Ay, ay," he said, " wheel, dive, scream, and clamour as you 
will, and all because you have seen a strange sight, and heard an 
unusual sound. There is many a one {like you in this round 
world. But you, at least, shall learn," he added, as he reloaded 
his gun, " that strange sights and strange sounds, ay, and strange 
acquaintances to boot, have sometimes a little shade of danger 
connected with them. — But why should I wreak my own vexation 
on these harmless sea-gulls ? " he subjoined, after a moment's 
pause ; " they have nothing to do with the friends that have for- 
gotten me. —I loved them all so well, — and to be so soon given up 
for the first stranger whom chance threw on the coast ! " 

As he stood resting upon his gun, and abandoning his mind to 
the course of these unpleasant reflections, his meditations were un- 
expectedly interrupted by some one touching his shoulder. He 
looked around, and saw Noma of the Fitful-head, wrapped in her 
dark and ample mantle. She had seen him from the brow of the 
hill, and had descended to the lake, through a small ravine which- 
concealed her, until she came with noiseless step so close to him 
that he turned round at her touch. 

Mordaunt Mertoun was by nature neither timorous nor credulous, 
and a course of reading more extensive than usual had, in some 
degree, fortified his mind against the attacks of superstition ; but 
he would have been an actual prodigy, if, living in Zetland in the 
end of the seventeenth century, he had possessed the philosophy 
which did not exist in Scotland generally, until at least two genera- 
tions later. He doubted in his own mind the extent, nay, the very 
existence, of Noma's supernatural attributes, which was a high 
flight of incredulity in the country where they were universally re- 
ceived ; but still his incredulity went no farther than doubts. She 
was unquestionably an extraordinary woman, gifted with an energy 
above others, acting upon motives peculiar to herself, and apparency 
independent of mere earthly considerations. Impressed with these 
ideas, which he had imbibed from his youth, it was not without some- 
thing like alarm, that he beheld this mysterious female standing on 
a sudden so close beside him, and looking upon him with such sad 
and severe eyes, as those with which the Fatal Virgins, who, accord- 
ing to northern mythology, were called the Valkyriur, or " Choosers 
of the Slain," were Supposed to regard the young champions whom 
they selected to share the banquet of Odin. 

It was, indeed, reckoned unlucky, to say the least, to meet with 
Noma suddenly alone, and in a place remote from witnesses ; and 
she was supposed, on such occasions, to have been usually a 


prophetess of evil, as well as an omen of misfortune, to those who 
had such a rencontre. There were few or none of the islanders, 
however familiarized with her occasional appearance in society, that 
would not have trembled to meet her on the solitary banks of the 
Green Loch. 

" I bring you no evil, Mordaunt Mertoun,'' she said, reading 
perhaps something of this superstitious feeling in the looks of the 
young man. " Evil from me you never felt, and never will." 

" Nor do I fear any," said Mordaunt, exerting himself to throw 
aside an apprehension which he felt to be unmanly. " Why should 
I, mother ? You have been ever my friend." 

"Yet, Mordaunt, thou art not of our region; but to none of 
Zetland blood, no, not even to those who sit around the hearth- 
stone of Magnus Troil, the noble descendants of the ancient Jarls 
of Orkney, am I more a well-wisher, than I am to thee, thou kind 
and brave-hearted boy. When I hung around thy neck that gifted 
chain, which all in our isles know was wrought by no earthly artist, 
but by the Drows,* in the secret recesses of their caverns, thou wert 
then but fifteen years old ; yet thy foot had been on the Maiden- 
skerrie of Northmaven, known before but to the webbed sole of the 
swartback, and thy skiff had been ill the deepest cavern of Brinna- 
stir, where the haaf-fish * had before slumbered in dark obscurity. 
Therefore I gave thee that noble gift ; and well thou knowest, that 
since that day, every eye in these isles has looked on thee as a son, 
or as a brother, endowed beyond other youths, and the favoured of 
those whose hour of power is when the night meets with the day." 

" Alas ! mother," said Mordaunt, " your kind gift may have given 
me favour, but it has not been able to keep it for me, or I have not 
been able to keep it for myself — What matters it? I shall 
learn to set as little by others as they do by me. My father says 
that I shall soon leave these islands, and therefore, Mother Noma, 
I will return to you your fairy gift, that it may bring more lasting 
luck to some other than it has done to me." ' 

" Despise not the gift of the nameless race," said Noma, frowning ; 
then suddenly changing her tone of displeasure to that of mournful 
solemnity, she added, — " Despise therh not, but, O Mordaunt, court 
them not ! Sit down on that grey stone — thou art the son of my 
adoption, and I will doff, as far as I may, those attributes that 
sever me from the common mass oi' - 1 mity, and speak with you 
as a parent with a child." 

There was a tremulous tone of grief which mingled with the 
loftiness of her language and carriage, and was calculated to excite 
sympathy, as well as to attract attention. Mordaunt sat down on 
the rock which she pointed out, a fragment which, with many 


others that lay scattered around, had been torn by some winter 
storm from the precipice at the foot of which it lay, upon the very 
verge of the water. Noma took her own seat on a stone at about 
three feet distance, adjusted her mantle so that little more than her 
forehead, her eyes, and a single lock of her grey hair, were seen 
from beneath the shade of her dark wadmaal cloak, and then pro- 
ceeded in a tone in which the imaginary consequence and import- 
ance so often assumed by lunacy, seemed to contend against the 
deep workings of some extraordinary and deeply-rooted mental 

" I was not always," she said, "that which I now am. I was not 
always the wise, the powerful, the commanding, before whom the 
young stand abashed, and the old uncover their grey heads. There 
was a time when my appearance did not silence mirth, when I 
sympathized with human passion, and had my own share in 
human joy or sorrow. It was a time of helplessness — it was a time 
of folly — it was a time of idk and unfruitful laughter — ^it was a time 
of causeless and senseless tears ; — and yet, with its follies, and its 
sorrows, and its weakijesses, what would Noma of Fitful-head give 
to be again the unmarked and happy maiden that she was in her 
early days ! Hear me, Mordaunt, and bear with me ; for you hear 
me utter complaints which have never sounded in mortal ears, and 
which in mortal ears shall never sound again. I will be what I 
ought," she continued, starting up and extending her lean and 
withered arm, " the queen and protectress of these wild and neg- 
lected isles, — I will be her whose foot the wave wets not, save by 
her permission ; aye, even though its rage be at its wildest madness 
— whose robe the whirlwind respects, when it rends the house- 
rigging from the roof-tree. Bear me witness, Mordaunt Mertoun, — 
you heard my words at Harfra — you saw tlie tempest iink before 
them — Speak, bear me witness ! " 

To have contradicted her in this stram of hi^-toned enthusiasm, 
would have been cruel and unavailing, even had Mordaunt been 
more decidedly convinced than he was, that an insane woman, not 
one of supernatural power, stood before him. 

" I heard you sing," he replied, " and I saw the tempest abate." 

"Abate?" exclaimed Noma, striking the ground impatiently 
with her staff of black oak ; " thou speakest it but half — it sunk at 
once — sunk in shorter space than the child that is hushed to silence 
by the nurse. — Enough, you know my power— but you know not — 
mortal man knows not, and never shall know, the price which I 
paid to attain it. No, Mordaunt, never for the widest sway that 
the ancient Norsemen boasted, when their banners waved vic- 
torious from Bergen to Palestine — never, for all that the round 


world contains, do thou barter thy peace of mind for such greatness 
as Noma's." She resunred her seat upon the rock, drew the mantle 
over her face, rested her head upon upon her hands, and by the 
convulsive motion which agitated her bosom, appeared to be 
weeping bitterly. 

" Good Noma," said Mordaunt, and paused, scarce knowing 
what to say • that might console the unhappy woman — " Good 
Noma," he again resumed, "if there be aught in your mind that 
troubles it, were you not best to go to the worthy minister at Dun- 
rossness? Men say you have not for many years been in a 
Christian congregation — that cannot be well, or right. You are 
yourself well known as a healer of bodily disease ; but when the 
mind is sick, we should draw to the Physician of our souls." 

Noma had raised her person slowly from the stooping posture in 
which she sat ; but at length she started up on her feet, threw back 
her mantle, extended her arm, and while her lip foamed, and her 
eye sparkled, exclaimed in a tone resembling a« scream, — " Me did 
you speak — me did you bid seek out a priest ! — Would you kill the 
good man with horror i" — Me in a Christian congregation ! — Would 
you have the roof to fall on the sackless assembly, and mingle 
their blood with their worship ? I — I seek to the good Physician ! 
— Would you have the fi^nd claim his prey openly before God and 
man ? " 

The extreme agitation of the unhappy speaker naturally led 
Mordaunt to the conclusion, which was generally adopted and 
accredited in that superstitious country and period. " Wretched 
woman," he said, " if indeed thou hast leagued thyself with the 
Powers of Evil, why should you not seek even yet for repentance ? 
But do as thou wilt, I cannot, dare not, as a Christian, abide longer 
with you ; and take again your gift," he said, offering back the 
chain. " Good can never come of it, if indeed evil hath not come 

" Be still and hear me, thou foolish boy," said Noma, calmly, as 
if she had been restored to reason by the alarm and horror which 
she perceived in Mordaunt's countenance ; — " hear me, I say. I 
am not of those who have leagued themselves with the Enemy of 
Mankind, or derive skill or power from his ministry. And although 
the unearthly powers were propitiated by a sacrifice which human 
tongue can never utter, yet, God knows, my guilt in that offering 
was no more than that of the blind man who falls from the preci- 
pice which he could neither see nor shun. O, leave me not — shun 
me not — in this hour of weakness ! Remain with me till the 
temptation be passed, or I will plunge myself into that lake, and 
rid myself at once of my power and my wretchedness ! " 


Moi-daunt, who had always looked up to this singular woman 
with a sort of affection, occasioned no doubt by the early kindness 
and distinction which she had shown to him, was readily induced 
to re-assume his seat, and listen to what she had further to say, in 
hopes that she would gradually overcome the violence of her agita- 
tion. It was not long ere she seemed to have gained the victory 
her companion expected, for she addressed him in her usual steady 
and autlforitative manner. 

" It was not of myself, Mordaunt, that I purposed to speak, 
when I beheld you from the summit of yonder grey rock, and came 
down the path to meet with you. My fortunes are fixed beyond 
change, be it for weal or for woe. For myself I have ceased to feel 
much ; but for those whom she loves. Noma of the Fitful-head 
has still those feelings which link her to her kind. Mark me. 
There is an eagle, the noblest that builds in these airy precipices, 
and into that eagle's nest there has crept an adder — wilt thou lend 
ihy aid to crush the reptile, and to save the noble brood of the 
lord of the north sky ? " 

" You must speak more plainly. Noma," said Mordaunt, " if you 
would have me understand or answer you. I am no guesser of 

" In plain language, then, you know well the family of Burgh- 
tVestra — the lovely daughters of the generous old UdaUer, Magnus 
Troil, — Minna and Brenda, I mean ? You know them, and you 
love them ? " 

"I have known them, mother," replied Mordaunt, "and I have 
loved them — none knows it better than yourself." 

" To know them once," said Noma, emphatically, " is to know 
them always. To love them once, is to love them for ever." 

" To have loved them once, is to wish them well for ever," 
replied the youth ; " but it is nothing more. To be plain with you, 
Noma, the family at Burgh-Westra have of late totally neglected 
me. But show me the means of serving them, I will convince you 
how much I have remembered old kindness, how little I resent late 

" It is well spoken, and I will put your purpose to the proof," 
replied Noma. " Magnus Troil has taken a serpent into his 
bosom — his lovely daughters are delivered up to the machinations 
of a villain." 

"You mean the stranger, Cleveland?" said Mordaunt. 

" The stranger who so calls himself," replied Noma — "the same 
whom we found flung ashore, like a waste heap of sea-weed, at the 
foot of the Sumburgh-cape. I felt that within me, that would have 
prompted me to let him lie till the tide floated him off, as it had 
floated him on shore. I repent me I gave not way to it." 


" But," said Mordaunt, " I cannot repent that I did my duty as a 
Christian man. And what right have I to wish otherwise? If 
Minna, Brenda, Magnus, and the rest, like that stranger better 
than me, I have no title to be offended; nay, I might well be 
laughed at for bringing myself into comparison." 

" It is well, and I trust they merit thy unselfish friendship." 

" But I cannot perceive," said Mordaunt, " in what you can 
propose that' I should serve them. I have but just learned by 
Bryce the jagger, that this Captain Cleveland is all in all with the 
ladies at Burgh-Westra, and with the Udaller himself. I would 
like ill to intrude myself where I am not welcome, or to place my 
home-bred merit in comparison with Captain Cleveland's. He can 
tell them of battles, when I can only speak of birds' nests — can 
speak of shooting Frenchmen, when I can only tell of shooting 
seals — he wears gay clothes, and bears a brave countenance ; I am 
plainly dressed, and plainly nurtured. Such gay gallants as he 
can noose the hearts of those he lives with, as the fowler nooses 
the guillemot with his rod and line." 

" You do wrong to yourself," replied Noma, " wrong to yourself, 
and greater wrong to Minna and Brenda. And trust not the 
reports of Bryce — ^he is like the greedy chaffer-whale, that will 
change his course and dive for the most petty coin which a fisher 
can cast at him. Certain it is, that if you have been lessened in 
the opinion of Magnus Troil, that sordid fellow hath had some 
share in it. But let him count his vantage, for my eye is upon 

" And why, mother," said Mordaunt, " do you not tell to Magnus 
what you have told to me ? " 

" Because," rephed Noma, " they who wax wise in their own 
conceit must be taught a bitter lesson by experience. It was but 
yesterday that I spoke with Magnus, and what was his reply ? — 
' Good Noma, you grow old.' And this was spoken by one bounden 
to me by so many and such close ties — by the descendant of the 
ancient Norse earls — this was from Magnus Troil to me ; and it 
was said in behalf of one, whom the sea flung forth as wreck-weed 1 
Since he despises the counsel of the aged, he shall be taught by 
that of the young ; and well that he is not left to his own folly. 
Go, therefore, to Burgh-Westra, as usual, upon [the Baptist's 

" I have had no invitation,'' said Mordaunt ; " I am not] wanted, 
not wished for, not thought of— perhaps I shall not be acknow- 
ledged if I go thither; and yet, mother, to confess the truth, 
thither I had thought to go." 

" It was a good thought, and to be cherished," replied Noma 5 


we seek our friends when they are sick in health, why not when 
they are sick in mind, and surfeited with prosperi{y ? Do not fail 
to go— it may be, we shall meet there. Meanwhife our roads lie 
different. Farewell, and speak not of this meeting*" 

They parted, and Mordaunt remained standing by the lake, with 
his eyes fixed on Noma, until her tall dark form became invisible 
among the windings of the valley down which she wandered, and 
Mordaunt returned to his father's mansion, determined to follow 
counsel which coincided so well with his own wishes. 


All your ancient customs, 

Andlong-descended usages, I'll change. 
Ye shall not eat, nor drink, nor speak, nor move. 
Think, look, or walk, as ye were wont to do. 
Even your marriage-beds shall-know mutation ; 
The bride shall have the stock, -tfie groom the wall ; 
For all old practice will I tuMnaad change, 
And call it reformation-;-marry will I ! 

'Tis Even that we're at Odds. 

The festal, day approached, and still no invitation arrived for 
that guest, without whom, but a little space since, no feast could 
have been held in the island ; while, on the other hand, such 
reports as reached them on every side spoke highly of the favour 
which Captain Cleveland enjoyed in the good graces of the old 
Udaller of Burgh- Westra. Swertha and the Ranzelman shook 
their heads at these mutations, and reminded Mordaunt, by many 
a half-hint and inuendo, that he had incurred this eclipse by being 
so imprudently active to secure the safety of the stranger, when he 
lay at the mercy of the next wave beneath the cliffs of Sumburgh- 
head. " It is best to let saut water take its gate," said Swertha; 
" luck never came of crossing it." 

" In troth," said the Ranzelman, " they are wise folks that let 
wave and withy hand their ain— luck never came ofa half-drowned 
man, or a half-hanged ane either. Who was't shot Will Paterson 
off the Nossi"— the Dutchman that he saved from sinking, I trow. 
To fling a drowning man a plank or a tow, may be the part of a 
Christian ; but I say, keep hands aff him, if ye wad live and thrive 
free frae his danger." 

" Ye are a wise man, Ranzelman, and a worthy," echoed Swertha,' 


with a groan, " and ken how and whan to help a neighbour, as 
well as ony man that ever drew a net." 

" In troth, I have seen length of days," answered the Ranzelman, 
" and I have heard what the auld folk said to each other anent sic 
matters ; a^nd nae man in Zetland' shall go farther than I will in 
any Christian service to a man on firm land ; but if he cry ' Help !', 
out of the saut waves, that's anothen story." 

" And yet, to think of this lad Cleveland standing in our -Maister 
Mordaunt's light," said Swertha, " and'- with Magnus- Troil, that 
thought him the flower of the island but on Whitsunday last, and 
Magnus, too, that's both held (when he's fresh, honest man) the 
wisest and wealthiest of Zetland!" 

" He canna win by it," said the Ranzelman, with a look of the 
deepest sagacity. " There's whiles, Swertha, that the wisest of us 
(as I am sure I humbly confess mysell not to be) may be little 
better than gulls, and can no more win by doing deeds of folly 
than I can step over Sumburgh-head. It has been my ov/n case 
once or twice in my life. But we shall see soon what ill is to come 
of all this, for good there cannot come." 

And Swertha answered, with the same tone of prophetic wisdom, 
" Na, na, gude can never come on it, and that is ower truly 

These doleful predictions, repeated from time to time, had some 
effect upon Mordaunt. He did not indeed suppose, that the 
charitable action of relieving a drowning man had subjected him, 
as a necessary and fatal consequence, to the unpleasant circum- 
stances in which he was placed ; yet he felt as if a sort -of spell 
were drawn arounji him, of which he neither understood the nature 
nor the extent ; — that some power, in short, beyond his own control, 
was acting upon his destiny, and, as it seemed, with no friendly 
influence. His curiosity, as well as his anxiety, was highly excited, 
and he continued determined, at all events, to make his appear- 
ance at the approaching festival, when he was impressed with the 
belief that something uncommon was necessarily to take place, 
which should determine his future views and prospects in life. 

As the elder Mertoun was at this time in his ordinary state of 
health, it became necessary that his son should intimate to him his 
intended visit to Burgh- Westra. He did so j and his father 
desired to know the especial reason of his going thither at this 
particular time. 

" It is a time of merry-making," replied the youth, '' and all the 
country are assembled." 

"And you are doubtless impatient to add another fool to the 
number. — Go — but beware how you walk in the path which you 


are about to tread— a fall from the oliffs of Foula were not more 

iSlay I ask the reason of your caution, sir ?" replied Mordaunt, 
breaking through the reserve which ordinarily subsisted betwixt 
him and his singular parent 

" Magnus Troil," said the elder Mertoun, " has two daughters— 
you are of the age when men look upon such gauds with eyes of 
affection, that they may afterwards learn to curse th day that first 
opened their qyes upon heaven ! 1 bid you beware of them j for, 
as sure as that death and sin came into the world by woman, so 
sure are their soft words, and softer looks, the utter destruction and 
ruin of all who put faith in them." 

Mordaunt had sometimes observed his Ether's marked dislike 
to the female sex, but had never before heard him give vent to it in 
terms so determined and precise. He replied, that the daughters 
of Magnus Troil were no more to him than any other femjJes in 
the islands ; " they were even of less importance/ he said, " for 
they had broken off their friendship with him, without assigning 
any cause." 

" And you go to seek the renewal of it ? " answered his father. 
"Silly moth, that hast once escaped the taper without singeing 
thy wings, are you not contented with the safe obscurity of these 
wilds, but must hasten back to the flame, which is sure at length 
to consume thee ? But why should I waste arguments in deterring 
thee from thy inevitable fate ? — Go where thy destiny calls thee." 

On the succeeding day, which was the eve of the great festival, 
Mordaunt set forth on his road to Burgh-Westra, pondering alter- 
nately on the injunctions of Noma— on the ominous words of his 
father — on the inauspicious auguries of Swertha and the Ranzel- 
man of Jarlshof— and not without experiencing that gloom with 
which so many concurring circumstances of ill omen combined to 
oppress his mind. 

" It bodes me but a cold reception at Burgh-Westra," said he ; 
" but my stay shall be the shorter. I will but find out whether 
they have been deceived by this seafaring stranger, or whether 
they have acted out of pure caprice of temper, and love of change 
of company. If the first be the case, I will vindicate my cha- 
racter, and let Captain Cleveland look to himself ;— if the latter, 
why, then, good-night to Burgh-Westra and all its inmates." 

As he mentally meditated this last alternative, hurt pride, and a 
return of fondness for those to whom he supposed he was bidding 
farewell for ever, brought a tear into his eye, which he dashed off 
hastily and indignantly, as, mending his pace, he continued on his 


The weather being now serene and undisturbed, Mordaunt made 
his way with an ease that formed a striking contrast to the difficul- 
ties which he had encountered when he last travelled the same 
route ; yet there was a less pleasing subject for comparison, within 
his own mind. 

" My breast," he said to himself, " was then against the wind, but 
my heart within v/as serene and happy. I would I had now the 
same careless feelings, were they to be bought by battling with the 
severest storm that ever blew across these lonely hills ! " 

With such thoughts, he arrived about noon at Harfra, the habi- 
tation, as the reader may remember, of the ingenious Mr. Yellow- 
ley. Our traveller had, upon the present occasion, taken care to be 
quite independent of the niggardly hospitality of this mansion, 
which was now become infamous on that account through the 
whole island, by bringing with him, in his small knapsack, such 
provisions as might have sufficed for a longer journey. In courtesy, 
however, or rather, perhaps, to get rid of his own disquieting 
thoughts, Mordaunt did not fail to call at the mansion, which he 
found in singular commotion. Triptolemus himself, invested with 
a pair of large jack-boots, went clattering up and down stairs, 
screaming out questions to his sister and his serving-woman 
Tronda, who replied with shriller and more complicated screeches. 
At length, Mrs. Baby herself made her appearance, her venerable 
person endued with what was then called a Joseph, an ample gar- 
ment, which had once been green, but now, betwixt stains and 
patches, had become like the vesture of the patriarch whose name 
it bore — a garment of divers colours. A steeple-crowned hat, the 
purchase of some long-past moment, in which vanity had got the 
better of avarice, with a feather which had stood as much wind 
and rain as if it had been part of a sea-mew's wing, made up her 
equipment, save that in her hand she held a silver-mounted whip 
of antique fashion. This attire, as well as an air of determined 
bustle in the gait and appearance of Mrs. Barbara Yellowley, 
seemed to bespeak that she was prepared to take a journey, and 
cared not, as the saying goes, who knew that such was her deter- 

She was the first that observed Mordaunt on his arrival, and she 
greeted him with a degree of mingled emotion. " Be good to us ! " 
she exclaimed, " if here is not the canty callant that wears yon 
thing about his neck, and that snapped up our goose as light as if 
it had been a sandy-lavrock ! " The admiration of the gold chain, 
which had formerly made so deep an impression on her mind, was 
marked in the first part of her speech, the recollection of the un- 
timely fate of the smoked goose was commemorated in the second 


clause. " I will lajrthe bufden of my life," she instantly added, 
" that he is ganging' our gate." 

"I am bound for Burgh- Westra, Mrs. Yellowley," said Mor- 

"And blithe will of your company," she added— "it's 
early day to eat ; but H' you liked a barley scone and a drink 
of Mand — natheless, ill travelling on a full stomach, besides 
quelUng. your appetite for the feast that is biding you this day ; for 
all-sort of prodigality there will doubtless be." 

Mordaunt produced his own stores, and, explaining that he did 
not love to be burdensome to them on this second occasion, invited 
them to partake of the provisions he had to offer. Poor Triptole- 
mus; who seldom saw half so good a dinner as his guest's*luncheon, 
threw himself upon the good cheer, like Sancho on the scum of 
Camacho's kettfe; and even the lady herself could not resist the 
tenq)t-ation, though she gave way to it with more moderation, and 
with something; like a sense of shame. " She had let the fire out," 
she said, " for it was a pity wasting fuel in so cold a country, and 
so she had not thought of getting anything ready, as they were to 
set out so soon ; and so she could not but say, that the young 
gentleman's nacket looked very good ; and besides, she had some 
curiosity to see whether the folks in that country cured their beef 
in the same way they did in the north of Scotland." Under which 
combined considerations. Dame Baby made a hearty experiment 
on the refreshments which thus unexpectedly presented them- 

When their extemporary repast was finished, the factor became 
solicitous to take the road ; and now Mordaunt discovered, that 
the alacrity with which he had been received by Mistress Baby 
was not altogether disinterested. Neither she nor the learned 
Triptolemus felt much disposed to commit themselves to the wilds 
of Zetland, without the assistance of a guide ; and although they 
could have commanded the aid of one of their own labouring folks, 
yet the cautious agriculturist observed, that it would be losing at 
least one day's work ; and his sister muhiplied his apprehensions 
by echoing back, " One day's work ? — ye may weel say twenty— 
for, set ane of their noses within the smell of a kail-pot, and 
their lugs within the sound of a fiddle, and whistle them back if ye 

Now the fortunate arrival of Mordaunt, in the very nick of 
time, not to mention the good cheer which he brought with him, 
made him as welcome as any one could possibly be to a thresh- 
hold, which, on all ordinary occasions, abhorred the passage of a 
guest ; nor was Mr. Yellowley altogether insensible of the pleasure 



he promised himself in detaihng his plans of improvement to his 
young companion, and enjoying what his fate seldom assigned 
him — the company of a patient and admiring listener. 

As the factor and his sister were to prosecute their journey on 
horseback, it only remained to mount their guide and companion ; 
a thing easily accomphshed, where there are such numbers of 
shaggy, long-backed, short-legged ponies, running wild upon the 
extensive moors, which are the common pasturage for the cattle 
of every township, where shelties, geese, swine, goats, sheep, and 
little Zetland cows, are turned out promiscuously, and often in 
numbers which can obtain but precarious subsistence from the 
niggard vegetation. There is, indeed, a right of individual 
property in all these animals, which are .branded or tattooed by 
each owner with his own peculiar mark ; but when any passenger 
has occasional use for a pony, he never scruples to lay hold of 
the first which he can catch, puts on a halter, and, having rode 
him as far as he finds convenient, turns the animal loose to find 
his way back again as he best can — a matter in which the ponies 
are sufficiently sagacious. 

Although this general exercise of property was one of the 
enormities which in due time the factor intended to alboliih, yet, 
like a wise man_, he scrupled not, in the meantime, to avail him- 
self of so general a practice, which, he condescended to allow, 
was particularly convenient for those who (as chanced to be his 
own present case) had no ponies of their own on which their 
neighbours could retaliate. Three shelties, therefore, were pro- 
cured from the hill — little shagged animals^ more resembling wild 
bears than any thing of the horse tribe, yet possessed of no small 
degree of strength and spirit^ and able to endure as much fatigue 
and indifferent usage as any creatures in the world. 

Two of these horses were already provided and fully accoutred 
for the journey. One of them, destined to bear the fair person 
of Mistress Baby, was decorated with a huge side-saddle of ven- 
erable antiquity — a mass, as it were, of cushion and padding, 
from which depended, on all sides, a housing of ancient tapestry, 
which, having been orginally intended for a horse of ordinary 
size, covered up the diminutive palfrey over which it was spread, 
from the ears to the tail, and from the shoulder to the fetlock, 
leaving nothing visible but its head, which looked fiercely out from 
these enfoldments, like the heraldic representation of a lion looking 
out of a bush. Mordaunt gallantly lifted up the fair Mistress Yel- 
lowley, and at the expense of very slight exertion, placed her upon 
the summit of her mountainous saddle. It is probable, that, on 
feeling herself thus squired and attended upon, and experiencing 


the long unwonted consciousness that she was attired in her best 
array, some thoughts dawned upon Mistress Baby's mind, which 
checkered, for an instant, those habitual ideas about thrift, that 
formed the daily and all-engrossing occupation of her soul. She 
glanced her eye upon her faded Joseph, and on the long housings 
of her saddle, as she observed, with a smile, to Mordaunt, that 
"travelling was a pleasant thing in fine weather and agreeable 
company, if," she added, glancing a look at a place where the em- 
broidery was somewhat frayed and tattered, " it was not sae wasteful 
to ane's horse-furniture." 

Meanwhile, her brother stepped stoutly to his steed j and as he 
chose, notwithstanding the serenity of the weather, to throw a long 
red cloak over his other garments, his pony was even more com- 
pletely enveloped in 'drapery than that of his sister. It happened, 
moreover, to be an animal of a high and contumacious spirit, 
bouncing and curvetting occasionally under the weight of Triptole- 
mus, with a vivacity which, notwithstanding his Yorkshire descent, 
rather deranged him in the saddle ; gambols which, as the palfrey 
itself was not visible, except upon the strictest inspection, had, at a 
little distance, an effect as if they were the voluntary movements of 
the cloaked cavalier, without the assistance of any other legs than 
those with which nature had provided him j and, to any who had 
viewed Triptolemus under such a persuasion, the gravity, and even 
distress, announced in his countenance, must have made a ridicu- 
lous contrast to the vivacious caprioles with which he piaffed along 
the moor. 

Mordaunt kept up with this worthy couple, mounted, according 
to the simplicity of the time and country, on the first and readiest 
pony which they had been able to press into the service, with no 
other accoutrement of any kind than the halter which served to 
guide him ; while Mr. Yellowley, seeing with pleasure his guide 
thus readily provided with a steed, privately resolved, that this 
rude custom of helping travellers to horses, without leave of the 
proprietor, should not be abated in Zetland, until he came to possess 
a herd of ponies belonging in property to himself, and exposed to 
suffer in the way of retaliation. 

But to other uses or abuses of the country, Triptolemus Yellowley 
showed himself less tolerant. Long and wearisome were the dis- 
courses he held with Mordaunt, or (to speak much more, correctly) 
the harangues which he inflicted upon him, concerning the changes 
which his own advent in these isles was about to occasion. Unskilled 
as he was in the modern arts by which an estate may be improved 
to such a high degree that it shall altogether slip through the pro- 
prietor's fingers, Triptolemus had at least the zeal, if not the know- 


ledge, of a whole agricultural society in his own person ; nor was 
he surpassed by any'who has followed him, in that noble spirit 
which scorns to balance profit against outlay, but holds the glory 
of effecting a great change on the face of the land, to be, like virtue, 
in a great degree its own reward. 

No part of the wild and mountainous region over which Mor- 
daunt guided him, but what suggested to his active imagination 
some scheme of improvement and alteration. He would make a 
road through yon scarce passable glen, where at present nothing 
but the sure-footed creatures on which they were mounted could 
tread with any safety. He would substitute better houses for the 
skeoeSj or sheds built of dry stones, in which the inhabitants cured 
or manufactured their fish — ^they should brew good ale instead of 
bland — they should plant forests where tree never grew, and find 
mines of treasure where a Danish skilling was accounted a coin of 
a most respectable denomination. All these mutations with many 
others, did the worthy factor resolve upon, speaking at the same 
time with the utmost confidence of the countenance and assistance 
which he was to deceive from the higher classes, and especially 
"yom Magnus TroiL 

" I will impart some of my ideas to the poor man," he said, 
" before We are both many hours older ; and you will mark how 
grateful he will be to the instructor who brings him knowledge, 
which is better than wealth." 

" I would not hava you build too strongly on that," said Mor- 
daunt, by way of cautuj-n ; " Magnus Troll's boat is kittle to trim — 
he likes nis own ways, and his country-ways, and you will as soon 
teach your sheltie to dive like a sealgh, as bring Magnus to take a 
Scottish fashion in the place of a Norse one ; and yet, if he is 
steady to his old customs, he may perhaps be as changeable as 
another in his old friendships." 

" Heus, tu ihepte !" said the scholar of St. Andrews, " steady or 
unsteady, what can it matter? — am not I here in point of trust, and 
in point of power ? and shall a Fowd. by which barbarous appella- 
tive this iJagnus Troil still calls himself, presume to measure 
judgment and weigh reasons with me, who represent the full 
dignity of the Chamberlain of the islands of Orkney and Zetland ? " 

" Still," said Mordaunt, Tt would advise you not to advance too 
rashly upon his prejudices. Magnus Troil, from the hour of his 
birth to this day, never saw a greater man than himself, and it is 
difficult to bridle an old horse for the first time. Besides, he has 
at no time in his life been a patient listener to long explanations, 
so it is possible that he may '^uaVrel with your proposed reforma- 
tion, before you can convince him of its advantages." 

I 3 


" How mean you, young man ? " said the factor. " Is there one 
who dwells in these islands, who is so wretchedly blind as not to 
be sensible of their deplorable defects ? Can a man," he added, 
rising into enthusiasm as he spoke, " or even a beast, look at that 
thing there, which they have the impudence to call a corn-mill,* 
without trembling to think that corn should be intrusted to such a 
miserable molendinary? The wretches are obliged to have at 
least fifty in each parish, each trundling away upon its paltry mill- 
stone, under the thatch of a roof no bigger than a bee-skep, 
instead of a noble and seemly baron's mill, of which you would 
hear the clack through the haill country, and that casts the meal 
through the mill-eye by forpits at a time ! " 

" Ay, ay, brother," said his sister, " that's spoken like your wise 
sell. The mair cost the mair honour — that's your word ever mair. 
Can it no creep into your wise head, man, that ilka body grinds 
their ain nievefu' of meal in this country, without plaguing them- 
sells about barons' mills, and thirls, and sucken, and the like trade ? 
How mony a time have I heard you bell-the-cat with auld Edie 
Netherstane, the miller at Grindlebum, and wi' his very knave too, 
about in-town and out-town multures — lock, gowpen, and knave- 
ship, and a' the lave o't ; and now naething less will serve you than 
to bring in the very same fashery on a wheen puir bodies, that big 
ilk ane a mill for themselves, sic as it is ?" 

" Dinna tell me of gowpen and knaveship ! " .exclaimed the 
indignant agriculturist ; " better pay the half of the grist to the 
miller, to have the rest grund in a Christian manner, than put good 
grain into a bairn's whirligig. Look at it for a moment, Baby- 
Bide still, ye cursed imp ! " This interjection was applied to his 
pony, which began to be extremely impatient, while its rider inter- 
ifupted his journey, to point out all the weak points of the Zetland 
mill—" Look at it, I say— it's just one degree better than a hand- 
quern — it has neither wheel hor trindle— neither cog nor happer— 
Bide still, there's a canny beast— it canna grind a bickerfu' of meal 
in a quarter of an hour, and that will be mair like a mash for 
horse than a meltith for man's use — ^Wherefore — Bide stiU, I say- 
wherefore— wherefore — The deil's in the beast, and nae good, I 
think ! " 

As he wttered the last words, the shelty, which had^pranced and 
curvetted for some time with much impatience, at length got its 
head betwixt its legs, and at once canted its rider into the little 
rivulet, which served to drive the depreciated engine he was sur- 
veying ; then emancipating itself from the folds of the cloak, fled 
back towards its own wilderness, neighing in scorn, and flinging 
out its heels at every five yards. 


Laughing heartily at his disaster, Mordaunt helped the old man 
to arise ; while his sister sarcastically congratulated him on having 
fallen rather into the shallows of a Zetland rivulet than the depths 
of a Scottish mill-pond. Disdaining to reply to this sarcasm, 
Triptolemus, so soon as he had recovered his legs, shaken his ears 
and found that the folds of his cloak had , saved him from being 
much wet in the scanty streamlet, exclaimed aloud, " I will have 
cussers from Lanarkshire — brood mares from Ayrshire — I will not 
have one of these cursed abortions left on the islands, to break 
honest folk's necks — I say, Baby, I will rid the land of them." 

" Ye had better wring your ain cloak, Triptolemus," answered 

Mordaunt meanwhile was employed in catching another pony, 
from a herd which strayed at some distance ; and, having made a 
halter out of twisted rushes, he seated the dismayed agriculturist in 
safety upon a more quiet, though less active steed, than that which 
he had at first bestrode. 

But Mr. Yellowley's fall had operated as a considerable sedative 
upon his spirits, and, for the full space of five miles' travel, he said 
scarce a word, leaving full course to the melancholy aspirations 
and lamentations which his sister Baby bestowed on the old bridle 
which the pony had carried off in its flight, and which, she ob- 
served, after having lasted for eighteen years come Martinmas, 
might now be considered as a castaway thing. Finding she had 
thus the field to herself, the old lady launched forth into a lecture 
' upon economy, according to her own idea of that virtue, which 
seemed to include a system of privations, which, though observed 
with the sole purpose of saving money, might, if undertaken upon 
other principles, have ranked high in the history of a religious 

She was but little interrupted by Mordaunt, v/ho, conscious he 
was now on the eve of approaching Burgh-Westra, employed him- 
self rather in the task of anticipating the nature of the reception 
he was about to meet with there from two beautiful young women, 
than with the prosing of an old one, however wisely she might 
prove that small beer lyas more wholesome than strong ale, and 
that if her brother had bruised his ankle bone in his tumble, cum- 
frey and butter was better to bring him round again, than all the 
doctor's drugs in the world. 

But now the dreary moorlands, over which their path had 
hitherto lain, were exchanged for a more pleasant prospect, open- 
ing on a salt-water lake, or arm of the sea, which ran up far inland, 
and was surrounded by flat and fertile ground, producing crops 
better than the experienced eye of Triptolemus Yellowley had as 


yet witnessed in Zetland. In the midst of this Goshen stood the 
mansion of Burgh-Westra, screened from the north and east by a 
ridge of heathy hills which lay behind it, and commanding an 
interesting prospect of the lake and its parent ocean, as well as 
the islands, and more distant mountains. From the mansion itself, 
as well as from almost every cottage in the adjacent hamlet, arose 
such a rich cloud of vapoury smoke, as showed, that the pre- 
parations for the festival were not confined to the principal 
residence of Magnus himself, but extended through the whole 

" My Gertie," said Mrs. Baby Yellowley, " ane wad think the 
haill town was on fire ! The very hillside smells of their wasteful- 
ness, and a hungry heart wad scarce seek better kitchen* to a 
barley scone, than just to waft it in the reek that's rising out of yon 


Thou has described 

A hot friend cooling. Ever note, Lucilius, 
When love begins to sicken and decay, 
It useth an enforced ceremony. 
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith. 

Julius Casar 

If the smell which was wafted from the chimneys of Burgh- 
Westra up to the barren hills by which the mansion, was sur- 
rounded, could, as Mistress Barbara opined, have refreshed the 
hungry, the noise which proceeded from thence might have given 
hearing to the deaf. It was a medley of all sounds, and all con- 
nected with jollity and kind welcome. Nor were the sights asso- 
ciated with them less animating. 

Troops of friends were seen in the act of arriving — their dispersed 
ponies flying to the moors in every direction, to recover their own 
pastures in the best way they could ; — such, as we have already 
said, being th'e usual mode of discharging the cavalry which had 
been levied for a day's service. At a small but commodious har- 
bour, connected with the house and hamlet, those visitors were 
landing from their boats, who, living in distant islands, and along 
the coast, had preferred making their journey by sea. Mordaunt 
and his companions might see each party pausing frequently to 
greet each other, and strolling on successively to the house, whose 


ever open gate received them alternately in such numbers, that it 
seemed the extent of the mansion, though suited to the opulence 
and hospitality of the owner, was scarce, on this occasion, sufficient 
for the guests. 

Among the confused sounds of mirth and vs^elcome which arose 
at the entrance of each new company, Mordaunt thought he could 
distinguish the loud laugh and hearty salutation of the Sire of the 
mansion, and began to feel more deeply than before, the anxious 
doubt, whether that cordial reception, which was distributed so 
freely to all others, would be oR this occasion extended to him. 
As they came on, they heard the voluntary scrapings and bravura 
effusions of the gallant fiddlers, who impatiently flung already from 
their bows those sounds with which they were to animate the 
evening. The clamour of the cook's assistants, and the loud 
scolding tones of the cook himself, were also to be heard — sounds 
of dissonance at any other time, but which, subdued with others, 
and by certain happy associations, form no disagreeable part of the 
full chorus which always precedes a rural feast. 

Meanwhile, the guests advanced, each full of their own thoughts. 
T.Iordaunt's we have already noticed. Baby was wrapt up in the 
melancholy grief and surprise excited by the positive conviction, 
that so much victuals had been cooked at once as were necessary 
to feed all the mouths which were clamouring around her — an 
enormity of expense, which, though she was no way concerned in 
bearing it, affected her nerves, as the beholding a massacre would 
touch those of the most indifferent spectator, however well assured 
of his own personal safety. She sickened, in short, at the sight of 
so much extravagance, like Abyssinian Bruce, when he saw the 
luckless minstrels of Gondar hacked to pieces by the order of Ras 
Michael. As for her brother, they being now arrived where the 
rude and antique instruments of Zetland agriculture lay scattered 
in the usual confusion of a Scottish barn-yard, his thoughts were at 
once engrossed in the deficiencies of the one-stilted plough — of the 
twiscar, with which they dig peats — of the sledges, on which they 
transport commodities — of all and every thing, in short, in which 
the usages of the islands differed from those of the mainland of 
Scotland. The sight of these imperfect instruments stirred the 
blood of Triptolemus Yellowley, as that of the bold warrior rises 
at seeing the arms and insignia of the enemy he is about to combat ; 
and, faithful to his high emprise, he thought less of the hunger 
which his journey had occasioned, although about to be satisfied 
by such a dinner as rarely fell to his lot, than upon the task which 
he had undertaken, of civilizing the manners, and improving the 
cultivation, of Zetland. 


" Jada est alea',' "he muttered to himself ; " this very day shall 
prove whether the Zetlanders are worthy of our labours, or whether 
their minds are as incapable of cultivation as their peat-mosses. 
Yet let us be cautious, and watch the soft time of speeeh. I feel, by 
my own experience, that it were best to let the body, in its present 
state, take the place of the mind. A mouthful of that same roast- 
beef, which smells so delicately, will form an apt introduction to 
my grand plan for improving the breed of stock." 

By this time the visitors had reached the low but ample front of 
Magnus Troll's residence, which seemed of various dates, with 
large and ill-imagined additions, hastily adapted to the original 
building, as the increasing estate, or enlarged family, of successive 
proprietors, appeared to each to demand. Beneath a low, broad, 
and large porch, supported by two huge carved posts, once the 
head-ornaments of vessels which had found shipwreck upon the 
coast, stood Magnus himself, intent on the hospitable toil of receiv- 
ing and welcoming the numerous guests who successively ap- 
proached. His strong portly figure was well adapted to the dress 
which he wore — a blue coat of an antique cut, lined with scarlet, 
and laced and looped with gold down the seams and button-holes, 
and along the ample cuffs. Strong and masculine features, ren- 
dered ruddy and brown by frequent exposure to severe weather — 
a quantity of most venerable silver hair, which fell in unshorn 
profusion from under his gold-laced hat, and was carelessly tied 
with a ribbon behind, expressed at once his advanced age, his 
hasty, yet well-conditioned temper, and his robust constitution. As 
our travellers approached him, a shade of displeasure seemed to 
cross his brow, and to interrupt for an instant the honest and 
hearty burst of hilarity with which he had been in the act of greet- 
ing all prior arrivals. When he approached Triptolemus Yellow- 
ley, he drew himself up, so as to mix, as it were, some share of the 
Stately importance of the opulent Udaller with the welcome afforded 
by the frank and hospitable landlord. 

" You are welcome, Mr. Yellowley," was his address to the factor; 
" you are welcome to Westra — the wind has blown you on a rough 
coast, and we that are the natives must be kind to you as we can. 
This, I believe, is your sister — Mistress Barbara Yellowley, permit 
me the honour of a neighbourly salute." — And so saying, with a 
daring and self-devoted courtesy, which would find no equal in our 
degenerate days, he actually ventured to salute the withered cheek 
of the spinster, who relaxed so much of her usual peevishness of 
expression, as to receive the courtesy with something which ap- 
proached to a smile. He then looked full at Mordaunt Mertoun, 
and without offering his hand, said, in a tone somewhat broken 


by suppressed agitation, "You too are welcome, Master Mor- 

" Did I not think so,'' said Mordaunt, naturalljj offended by tlie 
coldness of his host's manner, " I had not been here — and it is not 
yet too late to turn back." 

"Young man," replied Magnus, "you know better than most, 
that from these doors no man can turn, without an offence to their 
owner. I pray you, disturb not my guests by your ill-timed 
scruples. When Magnus Troil says welcome, all are welcome who 
are within hearing of his voice, and it is an indifferent loud one. — 
Walk on, my worthy guests, and let us see what cheer my lasses 
can make you within doors." 

So saying, and taking care to make his manner so general to the 
whole party, that Mordaunt should not be able to appropriate any 
particular portion of the welcome to himself, nor yet to complain of 
being excluded from all share in it, the Udaller ushered the guests 
into his house, where two large outer rooms, which, on the present 
occasion, served the purpose of a modern saloon, were' already 
crowded with guests of every description. 

The furniture was sufficiently simple, and had a character 
peculiar to the situation of those stormy islands, Magnus Troil 
was, indeed, like most of* the higher class of Zetland proprietors, a 
friend to the distressed traveller, whether by sea or land, and had 
repeatedly exerted his whole authority in protecting the property 
and persons of shipwrecked mariners ; yet so frequent were wrecks 
upon that tremendous coast, and so many unappropriated articles 
were constantly flung ashore, that the interior of the house bore 
sufficient witness to the ravages of the ocean, and to the exercise 
of those rights which the lawyers term Flotsome and Jetsome. The 
chairs, which were arranged around the wails, were such as are 
used in cabins, and many of them were of foreign construction ; 
the mirrors and cabinets, which were placed against the walls for 
ornament or convenience, had, it was plain from their form, been 
constructed for ship-board, and one or two of the latter were of 
Strange and unknown wood. Even the partition which separated 
the two apartments, seemed constructed out of the bulkhead of 
some large vessel, clumsily adapted to the service which it at pre- 
sent performed, by the labour of some native joiner. To a stranger, 
these evident marks and tokens of human misery might, at the first 
glance, form a contrast with the scene of mirth with which they 
were now associated ; but the association was so familiar to the 
natives, that it did not for a moment interrupt the course of their 

To the younger part of thege revellers the presence of Mordaunt 


was like a fresh charm of enjoyment. All came around him to 
marvel at his absence, and all, by their repeated enquiries, plainly 
showed that they conceived it had been entirely voluntary on his 
side. The youth felt that this general acceptation relieved his 
anxiety on one painful point. Whatever prejudice the family of 
Burgh- Westra might have adopted respecting him, it must be of a 
private nature ; and at least he had not the additional pain of 
finding that he was depreciated in the eyes of society at large ; and 
his vindication, when he found opportunity to make one, would not 
require to be extended beyond the circle of a single family. This 
was consoling ; though his heart still throbbed with anxiety at the 
thought of meeting with his estranged, but still beloved frieiids. 
Laying the excuse of his absence on his father's state of health, he 
made his way through the various groups of friends and guests, 
each of whom seemed willing to detain him as long as possible, 
and having, by presenting them to one or two families of conse- 
quence, got rid of his travelling companions, who at first stuck fast 
as burs, he reached at length the door of a small apartment, which, 
opening from one of the large exterior rooms we have mentioned, 
Minna and Brenda had been permitted to fit up after their own 
taste, and to call their peculiar property. 

Mordaunt had contributed no small share of the invention and 
mechanical execntion employed in fitting up this favourite apart- 
ment, and in disposing its ornaments. It was, indeed, during his 
last residence at Burgh-Westra, as free to his entrance and occupa- 
tion, as to its proper mistresses. But now, so much were times 
altered, that he remained with his finger on the latch, uncertain 
whether he should take the freedom to draw it, until Brenda's voice 
pronounced the words, " Come in, then," in the tone of one who is 
interrupted by an unwelcome disturber, who is to be heard and 
dispatched with all the speed possible. 

At this signal Mertoun entered the fanciful cabinet of the sisters, 
which by the addition of many ornaments, including some articles 
of considerable value, had been fitted up for the approaching 
festival. The daughters of Magnus, at the moment of Mordaunt's 
entrance, were seated in deep consultation with the stranger Cleve- 
land, and with a little slight-made old man, whose eye retained all 
the vivacity of spirit, which had supported him under the thousand 
vicissitudes of a changeful and precarious life, and which, accom- 
panying him in his old age, rendered his grey hairs less awfully 
reverend perhaps, but not less beloved, than would a more grave 
and less imaginative expression of countenance and character. 
There was even a penetrating shrewdness mingled in the look of 
curiosity, with which, as he stepped for an instant aside, he seemed 
to watch the meeting of Mordaunt with thetwo lovely sisters. 


The reception the youth met with resembled," in general cha- 
racter, that which he had experienced from Magnus himself; but 
the maidens could not so well cover their sense of the change of 
circumstances under which they met. Both blushed, as, rising, 
and without extending the hand, far less offering the cheek, as the 
fashion of the times permitted, and almost exacted, they paid to 
Mordaunt the salutation due to ah ordinary acquaintance. But 
the blush of the elder was one of those transient evidences of flit- 
ting emotion, that vanish as fast as the passing thought which 
excites them. In an instant she stood before the youth calm and 
cold, returning, with guarded and cautious courtesy, the usual 
civilities, which, with a faltering voice, Morda'unt endeavoured to 
present to her. The emotion of Brenda bore, externally at least, a 
deeper and more agitating character. Her blush extended over 
every part of her beautiful skin which her dress permitted to be 
visible, including her slender neck, and the upper region of a finely 
formed bosom. Neither did she even attempt to reply to what 
share of his confused comphment Mordaunt addressed to her in 
' particular, but regarded him with eyes, in which displeasure was 
evidently mingled with feelings of regret, and recollections of 
former times. Mordaunt felt, as it were, assured upon the instant, 
that the regard of Minna was extinguished, but that it might be yet 
possible to recover that of the milder Brenda ; and such is the 
waywardness of human fancy, that though he had never hitherto 
made aay distinct difference betwixt these two beautiful and inte- 
resting girls, the favour of her, which seemed most absolutely 
withdrawn, Ijecame at the moment the most interesting in his 
eyes. ^ 

He was disturbed in these hasty reflections by Cleveland, who 
advanced, with military frankness, to pay his corhpliments to his 
preserver, having only delayfed long enough to permit the exchange 
of the ordinary salutation betwixt the visitor and the ladies of the 
family. He made his approach with so good a grace, that it was 
impossible for Mordaunt, although he dated his loss of favour at 
Burgh-Westra from this stranger's appearance on the coast, and 
domestication in the family, to do less than return his advances as 
courtesy demanded, accept his thanks with an appearance of satis- 
faction, and hope that his time had past pleasantly since their last 

Cleveland was about to answer, when he was anticipated by the 
little old man, formerly noticed, who now thrusting himself forward, 
and seizing Mordaunt's hand, kissed him on the forehead ; and 
then at the same time echoed and answered his question — " How 
passes time at Burgh-Westra ? Was it you that asked it, my prince 


of the cliff and of the scaur ? How should it pass, but with all the 
wings that beauty and joy can add to help its flight ! " 

" And wit and song, too, my good old friend," said Mordaunt 
half-serious, half-jesting, as he shook the old man cordially by 
the hand.— "These cannot be wanting, where Claud Halcro 
comes ! " 

" Jeer me not, Mordaunt, my good lad," replied the old man ; 
" When your foot is as slow as mine, your wit frozen, and your 
song out of tune " 

"How can you belie yourself, my good master?" answered 
Mordaunt, who was not unwilling to avail himself of his old friend's 
peculiarities to introduce something like conversation, break the 
awkwardness of this singular meeting, and gain time for observa- 
tion, ere requiring an explanation of the change of conduct which 
the family seemed to have adopted towards him. " Say not so," 
he continued. " Time, my old friend, lays his hand lightly on the 
bard. Have I not heard you say, the poet partakes the immortality 
of his song ? and surely the great English poet, you used to tell us 
of, was elder than yourself when he pulled the bow-oar among all 
the wits of London." 

This alluded to a story which was, as the French term it, 
Halcro's cheval de bataille, and any allusion to which was certain 
at once to place him in the saddle, and to push his hobby-horse 
into full career. 

His laughing eye kindled with a sort of enthusiasm, which the 
ordinary folk of this world might have called crazed, while he 
dashed into the subject which he best loved to talk upon. "Alas, 
alas, my dear Mordaunt Mertouh — silver is silver, and waxes not 
dim by use — and pewter is pewter, and grows the longer the duller. 
It is not for poor Claud Halcro to name himself in the same 
twelvemonth with the immortal John Dryden. True it is, as I may 
have told you before, that I have seen that great man, nay, I have 
been in the Wits'* Coffeehouse, as it was then called, and had once 
a pinch out of his own very snuff-box. I must have told you all 
how it happened, but here is Captain Cleveland, who never heard 
it. — I lodged, you must know^in Russel Street — I question not but 
you know Russel Street, Covent Garden, Captain Cleveland ? " 

" I should know its latitude pretty well, Mr. Halcro," said the 
Captain, smiling; "but I believe you mentioned the circumstance 
yesterday, and besides we have the day's duty in hand— you must 
play us this song which we are to study." 

" It will not serve the turn now," said Halcro, " we must think of 
something that will take in our dear Mordaunt, the first voice in 
the island, whether for a part or solo. I will nevw b§ h? will %o\>,^ 


a string to you, unless Mordaunt Mertoun is to help us out. — What 
say you, my fairest Night ? — what think you, my sweet Dawn of 
Day?" lie added, addressing the young women, upon whom, as 
we have said elsewhere, he had long before bestowed these alle- 
gorical names. 

" Mr. Mordaunt Mertoun," said Minna, " has come too late to 
be of'our band on this occasion — it is our misfortune, but it cannot 
be helped." 

"How? what?" said Halcro, hastily — "too late — and you have 
practised together all your lives ? take my word, my bonny lasses, 
that old tunes are sweetest, and old friends surest. Mr. Cleveland 
has a fine bass, that must be allowed ; but I would have you trust 
for the first effect to one of the twenty fine airs you can sing where 
Mordaunt's tenor joins so well with your own witchery — here is my 
lovely Day approves of the change in her heart." 

" You were never in your life more mistaken, father Hafcro," said 
Brenda, her cheeks again reddening, more with displeasure, it 
seemed, than with shame. 

" Nay, but how is this ? " said the old man, pausing, and looking 
at them alternately. " What have we got here ? — a cloudy night 
and a red morning ? — that betokens rough weather. — What means 
all this, young women ? — where lies the offence ? — In me, I fear ; 
for the blame is always laid upon the oldest when young folk like 
you go by the ears," 

" The blame is not with you, father Halcro," said Minna, rising, 
and taking her sister by the arm, " if indeed there be blame any- 

" I should fear then, Minna," said Mordaunt, endeavouring to 
soften his tone into one of indifferent pleasantry, " that the new 
comer has brought the offence along with him." 

"When no offence is taken," replied Minna, with her usual 
gravity, " it matters not by whom such may have been offered." 

" Is it possible, Minna !" exclaimed Mordaunt, "and is it you 
who speak thus to me ? — And you too, Brenda, can you too judge 
so hardly of ine, yet without permitting me one moment of honest 
and frank explanation ? " 

" Those who should know best," answered Brenda, in a low but 
decisive tone of voice, " have told us their pleasure, and it must be 
done. — Sister, I think we have staid too long here, and shall be 
wanted elsewhere — Mr. Mertoun will excuse us on so busy a 

The sisters linked their arms together. Halcro in vain endea- 
voured to stop them, making, at the same time, a theatrical gesture, 
and exclaimifl?, 


" Now, Day and Night, but this is wondrous strange ! " 

Then turned to Mordaunt Mertoun, and added—" The girls are 
possessed with the spirit of mutability, showing, as our master 
Spenser well saith, that 

'Among all living creatures, more or lesse 
Change still doth reign, and keep the greater sway.' 

Captain Cleveland," he continued, " know you anything that has 
happened to put these two juvenile Graces out of tune ? " 

" He will lose his reckoning," answered Cleveland, " that spends 
time in enquiring why the wind shifts a pojnt, or why a woman 
changes her mind. Were I Mr. Mordaunt, I would not ask the 
preud wenches another question on such a. subject." 

" It is a friendly advice. Captain Cleveland," replied Mordaunt, 
"and I will not hold it the less so that it has been given unasked. 
Allow me to enquire if you are yourself as indifferent to the opinion 
of your female friends, as it seems you would have me to be ? " 

" Who, I ? " said the Captain, with an air of frank indifference, 
" I never thought twice upon such a subject. I never saw a woman 
worth thinking twice about after tlie anchor was a-peak — on shore 
it is another thing ; and I will laugh, sing, dance, and make love, 
if they like it, with twenty girls, were they but half so pretty as 
those who have left us, and make them heartily welcome to change 
their course in the sound of a boatswain's whistle. It will be odds 
but I wear as fast as they can." 

A patient is seldom pleased with that sort of consolation which 
is founded on holding light the malady of which he complains ; and 
Mordaunt felt disposed to be offended with Captain Cleveland, 
both for taking notice of his embarrassment, and intruding upon 
him his own opinion ; and he replied, therefore, somewhat sharply, 
" that Captain Cleveland's sentiments were only suited to such as 
had the art to become universal favourites wherever chance hap- 
pened to throw them, and who could not lose in one place more 
than their merit was sure to gain for them in another." 

This was spoken ironically ; but there was, to confess the truth, 
a superior knowledge of the world, and a consciousness of external 
merit at least, about the man, which rendered his interference 
doubly disagreeable. As Sir Lucius O'Trigger says, there was an 
air of success about -Captain Cleveland which was mighty provok- 
ing. Young, handsome, and well assured, his air of nautical 
bluntness sat naturally and easily upon him, and was perhaps 
particularly well fitted to the simple manners of the remote country 


in which he found himself ; and where, even in the best families, a 
greater degree of refinement might have rendered his conversation 
rather less acceptable. He was contented, in the present instance, 
to smile good-humouredly at the obvious discontent of Mordaunt 
Mertoun, and replied, " You are angry with me, my good friend, 
but you cannot make me angry with you. The fair hands of all 
the pretty women I ever saw in my life would never have fished me 
up out of the Roost of Sumburgh. So, pray, do not quarrel with 
me ; for here is Mr. Halcro witness that I have struck both jack 
and topsail, and should you fire a broadside into me, cannot return 
a single shot." 

" Ay, ay," said Halcro, " you must be friends with Captain Cleve- 
land, Mordaunt. Never quarrel with your friend, because a woman 
is whimsical. Why, man, if they kept one humour, how the devil 
could we make so many songs on them as we do ? Even old Dryd^ 
himself, glorious old John, could have said little about a girl that, 
was always of one mind — as well write verses upon a mill-pond, 
It is your tides and your roosts, and your currents and eddies, that 
come and go, and ebb and flow, (by Heaven ! I run into rhyme 
when I so much as think upon them,) that smile one day, rage the 
next, flatter and devour, delight and ruin us, and so forth — it is 
these that give the real soul of poetry. Did you never hear my 
Adieu to the Lass of Northmaven — that was poor Bet Stimbister, 
whom I call Mary for the sound's sake, as I call myself Hacon 
after my great ancestor Hacon Goldemund, or Haco with the 
golden mouth, who came to the island with Harold Harfager, and 
was his chief Scald ? — Well, but where was I ? — O ay— poor Bet 
Stimbister, she (and partly some debt) was the cause of my leaving 
the isles of Hialtland, (better so called than Shetland, or Zetland 
even,) and taking to the broad world. I have had a tramp of it 
since that time — I have battled my way through the world, Captain 
as a man of mold may, that has a light head, a light purse, and a 
heart as light as them both — fought my way, and paid my way — 
that is, either with money or wit — have seen kings changed and 
deposed as you would turn a tenant out of a scathold — knew all the 
wits of the age, and especially the glorious John Dryden — what 
man iii the islands can say as much, barring lying ? — I had a pinch 
out of his own snuff-box — I will tell you how I came by such pro- 

" But the song, Mr. Halcro," said Captain Cleveland. 

" The song ? " answered Halcro, seizing the Captain" by the 
button, — for he was too much accustomed to have his audience 
escape' from him during recitation, not to put into practice all the 
usual means of prevention, — " The song ? Why I gave a copy of 


it, with fifteen others, to the immortal John. You shall hear it- 
you shall hear them all, if you will but stand still a moment ; and 
you too, my dear boy, Mordaunt Mertoun, I have scarce heard a 
word from your mouth these six months, and now you are running 
away from me." So saying, he secured him with his other 

" Nay, now he has got us both in tow,'' said the seaman, " there 
is nothing for it but hearing him out, though he spins as tough a 
yarn as ever an old man-of-war's-man tivisted on the watch at mid- 

" Nay, now, be silent, be silent, and let one of us speak at once," 
said the poet, imperatively ; while Cleveland and Mordaunt, looking 
at each other with a ludicrous expression of resignation to their fate, 
waited in submission for the well-known and inevitable tale. " I will 
tell you all about it," continued Halcro. " I was knocked about the 
world like other young fellows, doing this, that, and t'other for a 
livelihood ; for, thank God, I could turn my hand to any thing— 
but loving stiU the Muses as much as if the ungrateful jades had 
found me, like so many blockheads, in my own coach and six. 
However, I held out till my cousin, old Lawrence Linldetter, died, 
and left me the bit of an island yonder ; although, by the way, 
Cultmalindie was as near to him as I was ; but Lawrence loved wit, 
though he had little of his own. Well, he left me the wee bit 
island — it is as barren as Parnassus itself. What then ? — I have a 
penny to spend, a penny to keep my purse, a penny to give to the 
poor — ay, and a bed and a bottle for a friend, as you shall know, 
boys, if you will go back with me when this merriment is over.— 
But where was I in my story ?" 

" Near port, I hope," answered Cleveland ; but Halcro was too 
determined a narrator to be interrupted by the broadest hint. 

" O ay," he resumed, with the self-satisfied air of one who has 
recovered the thread of a story, " I was in my old lodgings in Russel 
Street, with old Timothy Thimblethwaite, the Master Fashioner, then 
the best-known man about town. He made for all the wits, and for 
the dull boobies of fortune besides, and made the one pay for the 
other. He never denied a wit credit save in jest, or for the sake of 
getting a repartee ; and he was in correspondence with all that was 
worth knowing about town. He had letters from Crowne, and 
Tate, and Prior, and Tom Brown, and all the famous fellows of the 
time, with such pellets of wit, that there was no reading them 
without laughing ready to die, and all ending with craving a 
further term for payment." 

" I should have thought the tailor would have found that jest 
rather serious," said Mordaunt. 


" Not a bit— not a bit," replied his eulogist, " Tim Thimble- 
thwaite (he was a Cumberland-man by birth) had the soul of a 
prince — ay, and died with the fortune of one j for woe betide the 
custard-gorged alderman that came under Tim's goose, after he 
had got one of those letters — egad, he was sure to pay the kain ! 
Why, Thimblethwaite was thought to be the original of little Tom 
Bibber, in glorious John's comedy of the Wild Gallant ; and I 
know that he has trusted, ay, and lent John money to boot out of 
his own pocket, at a time when all his fine court friends blew cold 
enough. He trusted me too, and I have been two months on the 
score at a time for my upper room. To be sure, I was obliging in 
his way— not that I exactly could shape or sew, nor would that have 
been decorous for a gentleman of good, descent; but I — eh, eh— I 
draw bills — summed up the books " 

" Carried home the clothes of the wits and aldermen, and got 
lodging for your labour?" interrupted Cleveland. 

" No, no — damn it, no," replied Halcro ; " no such thing— you 
put me out in my story — where was I ? " 

" Nay, the devil help you to the latitude," said the Captain, ex- 
tricating his button from the gripe of the unmerciful bard's finger 
and thumb, " for I have no time to take an observation." So say- 
ing, he bolted from the room. 

" A silly, iU-bred, conceited fool," said Halcro, looking after him ; 
" with as little manners as wit in his empty coxcomb. I wonder 
what Magnus and these siUy wenches can see in him — he tells such 
damnable long-winded stories, too, about his adventures and sea- 
fights— every second word a lie, I doubt not. Mordaunt, my dear 
boy, take example by that man — that is, take warning by him — 
never tell long stories about yourself. You are sometimes given to 
talk too much about your own exploits on crags and skerries, and 
the like, which only breaks conversation, and prevents other folk 
from being heard. Now I see you are impatient to hear out what 
I was saying — Stop, whereabouts was I ? " 

" I fear we must put it off, Mr. Halcro, until after dinner," said 
Mordaunt, who also meditated his escape, though desirous of effect- 
ing it with more delicacy towards his old acquaintance than Captain 
Cleveland had thought it necessary to use. 

" Nay, my dear boy," said Halcro, seeing himself about to be 
utterly deserted, " do not you leave me too — never take so bad an 
example as to set light by old acquaintance, Mordaunt. I have 
wandered many a weairy step in my day ; but they were always 
lightened when I could get hold of the arm of an old friend like 

So saying, he quitted the youth's Coat, and sliding his hand gently 



under his arm, grappled him more effectually ; to which Mordaunt 
submitted, a little moved by the poet's observation upon the un- 
kindness of old acquaintances, under which he himself was an in)- 
mediate sufferer. But when Halcro renewed his formidable 
question, " Whereabouts was I ? " Mordaunt, preferring his poetry to 
his prose, reminded him of the song which he said he had written 
upon his first leaving Zetland, — a song to which, indeed, the 
enquirer was no stranger, but which, as it must be new to the reader, 
we shall here insert as a favourable specimen of the poetical 
powers of this tuneful descendant of Haco the Golden-mouthed ; 
for, in the opinion of many tolerable judges, he held a respectable 
rank among the inditers of madrigals of the period, and was as well 
qualified to give immortality to his Nancies of the hills or dales, as 
many a gentle sonnetteer of wit and pleasure about town. He was 
something of a musician also, and on the present occasion seized 
upon a sort of lute, and, quitting his victim, prepared the instru- 
ment for an accompaniment, speaking all the while that he might 
lose no time. " I learned the lute," he said, " from the same man 
who taught honest Shadwell — plump Tom, as they used to call 
him — somewhat roughly treated by the glorious John, you re- 
member — Mordaunt, you remember — 

' Methinks I see the new Arion sail, 
The lute still trembling underneath thy nail ; 
At thy well sharpen'd thumb, from shore to shore, 
The trebles squeak for fear, the basses roar.' 

Come, I am indifferently in tune now — what was it to be ? — ay, I 
remember — nay. The Lass of Northmaven is the ditty — poor Bet 
Stimbister ! I have called her Mary in the verses. Betsy does 
well for an English song ; but Mary is more natural here." So 
saying, after a short prelude, he sung, with a tolerable voice and 
some taste, the following verses ;— 


Farewell to Northmaven, 

Grey Hillswicke, farewell ! 
To the calms of thy haven. 

The storms on thy fell — 
To each breeze that can vary 

The mood of thy main, 
And to thee, bonny Mary ! 

We meet not again. 


Farewell the wild ferry, 
Which Hacon could brave, 

When the peaks of the Skerry- 
Were white in the wave. 

There's a maid may look over 
These wild waves in vain — 

For the skiiif of her lover — 
He comes not again. 

The vows thou hast broke. 

On the wild currents fling them ; 
On the quicksand and rock 

Let the mermaidens sing them. 
New sweetness they'll give her 

Bewildering strain ; 
But there's one who will never 

Believe them again. 

O were there an island, 

Though ever so wild, 
Where woman could smile, and 

No man be beguiled— 
Too tempting a snare 

To poor mortals were given. 
And the hope would fix there, 

That should anchor on heaven ! 

" I see you are softened, my young friend," said Halcro, when he 
had finished his song ; " so are most who hear that same ditty. 
Words and music both mine own ; and, without saying much of 
the wit of it, there is a sort of eh — eh — simplicity and truth about 
it, which gets its way to most folk's heart. Even your father can- 
not resist it— and he has a heart as impenetrable to poetry g.nd song 
as Apollo himself could draw an arrow against. But then he has 
had some ill luck in his time with the women-folk, as is plain from 
his owing them such a grudge — Ay, ay, there the' charm lies — none 
of us but has felt the same sore in our day. But come, my dear 
boy, they are mustering in the hall, men and women both— plagues 
as they are, we should get on ill without them — ^but before we go, 
only mark the last turn— 

' And the hope would fix there,' — 

that is, in the supposed island — a place which neither was nor 
will be — 

' That should anchor on heaven. 

K 2 


Now you see, my good young man, there are here none of your 
heathenish rants, which Rochester, Etheridge, and these wild 
fellows, used to string together. A parson might sing the song, 
and his clerk bear the burden— but there is the confounded bell— 
we must go now— but never mind — we'll get into a quiet corner at 
night, and I'll tell you all about it." 


Full in the midst the polish'd table shines. 
And the bright goblets, rich with generous wines ; 
Now each partakes the feast, the wine prepares, 
Portions the food, and each the portion shares ; 
Nor till the rage of thirst and hunger ceased, 
To the high host approach'd the sagacious guest. 


The hospitable profusion of Magnus Troll's board, the number 
of guests who feasted in the hall, the much greater number of re- 
tainers, attendants, humble friends, and domestics of every possible 
description, who revelled without, with tlie multitude of the still 
poorer, and less honoured assistants, who came from every hamlet 
or township within twenty mile's round, to share the bounty of 
the munificent Udaller, were such as altogether astonished Trip- 
tolemus Yellowley, and made him internally doubt whether it 
would be prudent in him at this time, and amid the full glow of 
his hospitality, to propose to the host who presided over such a 
splendid banquet, a radical change in the whole customs and 
usages of his country. 

True, the sagacious Triptolemus felt conscious that he possessed 
in his own person wisdom far superior to that of all the assembled 
feasters, to say nothing of the landlord, against whose prudence the 
very extent of his hospitality formed, in Yellowley's opinion, suf- 
ficient evidence. But yet the Amphitryon with whom one dines, 
holds, for the time at least, an influence over the minds of his most 
distinguished guests ; and if the dinner be in good style and the 
wines of the right quahty, it is humbling to see that neither art nor 
wisdom, scarce external rank itself, can assume their natural and 
wonted superiority over the distributor of these good things, until 
coffee has been brought in. Triptolemus felt the full weight of this 
temporary superiority, yet he was desirous to do something that 



might vindicate the vaunts he had made to his sister and his fellow- 
traveller, and he stole a look at them from time to time, to mark 
whether he was not sinking in their esteeni from postponing his 
promised lecture on the enormities of Zetland. 

But Mrs Barbara was busily engaged in noting and registering 
the waste incurred in such an entertainment as she had probably 
never before looked upon, and in admiring the host's indifference to, 
and the guests' absolute negligence of, those rules of civihty in 
which her youth had been brought up. The feasters desired to be 
helped from a dish which was unbroken, and might have figured at 
supper, with as much freedom as if it had undergone the ravages of 
half-a-dozen guests ; and no one seemed to care — the landlord 
himself least of all — whether those dishes only were consumed, 
which, from their nature, were incapable of re-appearance, or 
whether the assault was extended to the substantial rounds of , beef, 
pasties, and so forth, which, by the rules of good housewifery, were 
destined to stand two attacks, and which, therefore, according to 
Mrs Barbara's ideas of politeness, ought not to have been annihi- 
lated by the guests upon the first onset, but spared, like Outis in 
the cave of Polyphemus, to be devoured the last. Lost in the 
meditations to which these breaches of convivial discipline gave 
rise, and in the contemplation of an ideal larder of cold meat which 
she could have saved out of the wreck of roast, boiled, and baked, 
sufficient to have supplied her cupboard for at least a twelvemonth, 
Mrs Barbara cared very little whether or not her brother supported 
in its extent the character which he had calculated upon assuming. 

Mordaunt Mertoun also was conversant with far other thoughts, 
than those which regarded the proposed reformer of Zetland 
enormities. His seat was betwixt two blithe maidens of Thule, 
who, not taking score that he had upon other occasions given pre- 
ference to the daughters of the Udaller, were glad of the chance 
which assigned to them the attentions of so distinguished a gallant, 
who, as being their squire at the feast, might in all probability 
become their partner in the subsequent dance. But, whilst render- 
ing to his fair neighbours all the usual attentions which society 
required, Mordaunt kept up a covert, but accurate and close ob- 
servation, upon his estranged friends, Minna and Brenda. The 
Udaller himself had a share of his attention ; but in him he could 
remark nothing, except the usual tone of hearty and somewhat 
boisterous hospitahty, with which he was accustomed to animate 
the banquet upon all such occasions of general festivity. But in 
the differing mien of the two maidens there was much more room 
for painful remark. 

Captain Cleveland sat betwixt the sisters, was sedulous in his at- 


tentions to both, and Mordaunt was so placed, that he could 
observe all, and hear a great deal, of what passed between them. 
But Cleveland's peculiar regard seemed devoted to the elder sister. 
Of this the younger was perhaps conscious, for more than once her 
eye glanced towards Mordaunt, and, as he thought, with something 
in it which resembled regret for the interruption of their intercourse, 
and a sad remembrance of former and more friendly times ; while 
Minna was exclusively engrossed by the attentions of her neighbour ; 
and that it should be so, filled Mordaunt with surprise and resent- 

Minna, the serious, the prudent, the reserved, whose countenance 
and manners indicated so much elevation of character — Minna, the 
lover of solitude, and of those paths of knowledge in which men 
walk best without company — the enemy of light mirth, the friend 
of musing melancholy, and the frequenter of fountain-heads and 
pathless glens — she whose character seemed, in short, the very 
reverse of that which might be captivated by the bold, coarse, and 
daring gallantry of such a man as this Captain Cleveland, gave, 
nevertheless, her eye and ear to him, as he sat beside her at table, 
with an interest and a graciousness of attention, which, to Mordaunt, 
who well knew how to judge of her feelings by her manner, in- 
timated a degree of the highest favour. He observed this, and his 
heart rose against the favourite by whom he had been thus super- 
seded, as well as against Minna's indiscreet departure from her 
own character. 

" What is there about the man," he said within himself, "more 
than the bold and daring assumption of importance which is derived 
from success in petty enterprises, and the exercise of petty despotism 
over a ship's crew?— His very language is more professional than 
is used by the superior officers of the British navy ; and the wit 
which has excited so many smiles, seems to me such as Minna 
would not formerly have endured for an instant. Even Brenda 
seems less taken with his gallantry than Minna, whom it should 
have suited so little." 

Mordaunt was doubly mistaken in these his angry speculations. 
In the first place, with an eye which was, in some respects, that of 
a rival, he criticised far too severely the manners and behaviour 
of Captain Cleveland. They were unpolished, certainly ; which 
was of the less consequence in a country inhabited by so plain and 
simple a race as the ancient Zetlanders. On the other hand, there 
was an open, naval frankness in Cleveland's bearing— much natural 
shrewdness — some appropriate humour — an undoubting confidence 
in himself— and that enterprising hardihood of disposition, which, 
without any other recommendable quality, very often leads to 


success with the fair sex. But Mordaunt was farther mistaken, 
in supposing that Cleveland was likely to be disagreeable to Minna 
Troil, on account of the opposition of their characters in so many 
material particulars. Had his knowledge of the world been a little 
more extensive, he might have observed, that as unions are often 
formed betwixt couples differing in complexion and stature, they 
take place still more frequently betwixt persons totally differing in 
feelings, in taste, in pursuits, and in understanding ; and it would 
not be saying, perhaps, too much, to aver, that two-thirds of the 
marriages around us have been contracted betwixt persons, who, 
judging a j^riori, we should have thought had scarce any charms 
for each other. 

A moral and primary cause might be easily assigned for these 
anomalies, in the wise dispensations of Providence, that the general 
balance of wit, wisdom, and amiable qualities of all kinds, should 
be kept up through society at large. For, what a world were it, if the 
wise were to intermarry only with the wise, the learned with the 
learned, the amiable with the amiable, nay, eyen the handsome 
with the handsome ? and, is it not evident, that the degraded castes 
of the foolish, the ignorant, the brutal, and the deformed, (com- 
prehending, by the way, far the greater portion of mankind,) must, 
when condemned to exclusive intercourse with each other, become 
gradually as much brutalized in person and disposition as so many 
ourang-outangs ? When, therefore, we see the " gentle joined to the 
rude," we may lament the fate of the suffering individual, but we 
must not the less admire the mysterious disposition of that wise 
Providence which thus balances the moral good and evil of life ;^- 
which secures for a family, unhappy in the dispositions of one 
parent, a share of better and sweeter blood, transmitted from the 
other, and preserves to the offspring the affectionate care and pro- 
tection of at least one of those from whom it is naturally due. 
Without the frequent occurrence of such alliances and unions — 
mis-sorted as they seem at first sight — the world could not be that 
for which Eternal Wisdom has designed it — a pla9e of mixed good 
and evil — a place of trial at once, and of suffering, where even the 
worst ills are checkered with something that renders them tolerable 
to humble and patient minds, and where the best blessings carry 
with them a necessary alloy of embittering depreciation. 

When, indeed, we look a little closer on the causes of those un- 
expected and ill-suited attachments, we have occasion to acknow- 
ledge, that the means by which they are produced do not infer that 
complete departure from, or inconsistency with, the character of 
the parties, which we might expect when the result alone is con 
templated. The wise purposes which Providence appears to havj 


had in view, by permitting such intermixture of dispositions, 
tempers, and understandings, in the married state, are not accom- 
plished by any mysterious impulse by which, in contradiction to 
the ordinary laws of nature, men or women are urged to an union 
with those whom the world see to be unsuitable to them. The 
freedom of will is permitted to us in the occurrences of ordinary 
life, as in our moral conduct ; and in the former as well as the 
latter case, is often the means of misguiding those who possess it. 
Thus it usually happens, more especially to the enthusiastic and 
imaginative, that, having formed a picture of admiration in their 
own mind, they too often deceive themselves by some faint re- 
semblance in some existing being, whom their fancy, as speedily as 
gratuitously, invests with all the attributes necessary to complete 
the beau ideal of mental perfection. No one, perhaps, even in the 
happiest marriage, with an object really beloved, ever discovered by 
experience all the qualities he expected to possess ; but in far too 
many cases, he finds he has practised a much higher degree of 
mental deception, and has erected his airy castle of felicity upon 
some rainbow, which owed its very existence only to the peculiar 
state of the atmosphere. 

Thus, Mordaunt, if better acquainted with life, and with the 
course of human things, would have been little surprised that such 
amanas Cleveland, handsome, bold, and animated, — amanwhohad 
obviously lived in danger, and who spoke of it as sport, should have 
been invested, by a girl of Minna's fanciful disposition, with an ex- 
tensive share of those qualities, which, in her active imagination, 
were held to fill up the accomplishments of a heroic character. 
The plain bluntness of his manner, if remote from courtesy, ap- 
peared at least as widely different from deceit ; and, unfashioned 
as he seemed by forms, he had enough both of natural sense, and 
natural good-breeding, to support the delusion he had created, at 
least as far as externals were concerned. It is scarce necessary to 
add, that these observations apply exclusively to what are called 
love-matches ; for when either party fix their attachment upon the 
substantial comforts of a rental, or a jointure, they cannot be dis- 
appointed in the acquisition, although they may be cruelly so in 
their over-estimation of the happiness it was to afford, or in having 
too slightly anticipated the disadvantages with which it was to be 

Having a certain partiality for the dark Beauty whom we have 
described, we have willingly dedicated this digression, in order to 
account for a Kne of conduct which we allow to seem absolutely un- 
natural in such a narrative as the present, though the most common 
event in ordinary life ; namely, in Minna's appearing to have over- 


estimated the taste, talent, and ability of a handsome young man, 
who was dedicating to her his whole time and attention, and whose 
homage rendered her the envy of almost all the other young 
women of that numerous party. Perhaps, if our fair readers will 
take the trouble to consult their own bosoms, they will be disposed 
to allow, that the distinguished good taste exhibited by any in- 
dividual, who, when his attentions would be agreeable to a whole 
circle of rivals, selects one as their individual object, entitles him, 
on the footing of reciprocity, if on no other, to a large share of that 
individual's favourable, and even partial, esteem. At any rate, if 
the character shall, after all, be deemed inconsistent and unnatural, 
it concerns not us, who record the facts as we find them, and pre- 
tend no privilege' for bringing closer to nature those incidents which 
may seem to diverge from it ; or for reducing to consistence that 
most inconsistent of all created things — the heart of a beautiful and 
admired female. 

Necessity, which teaches all the liberal arts, can render us also 
adepts in dissimulation ; and Mordaunt, though a novice, failed 
not to profit in her school. It was manifest, that, in order to ob- 
serve the demeanour of those on whom his attention was fixed, he 
must needs put constraint on his own, and appear, at least, so much 
engaged with the damsels betwixt whom he sat, that Minna and 
Brenda should suppose him indifferent to what was passing around 
him. The ready cheerfulness of Maddie and Clara Groatsettars, 
who were esteemed considerable fortunes in the island, and were at 
this moment too happy in feeling themselves seated somewhat 
beyond the sphere of vigilance influenced by their aunt, the good 
old Lady Glowrowrum, met and requited the attempts which 
Mordaunt made to be lively and entertaining ; and they were 
soon engaged in a gay conversation, to which, as usual on such 
occasions, the gentleman contributed wit, or what passes for 
such, and the ladies their prompt laughter and liberal applause. 
But, amidst this seeming mirth, Mordaunt failed not, from time to 
time, as covertly as he might, to observe the conduct of the two 
daughters of Magnus ; and still it appeared as if the elder, wrapt 
up in the conversation of Cleveland, did not cast away a thought 
on the rest of the company ; and as if Brenda, more openly as she 
conceived his attention withdrawn from her, looked with an ex- 
pression both anxious and melancholy towards the group of which 
he himself formed a part. He was much moved by the diffidence, 
as well as the trouble, which her looks seemed to convey, and 
tacitly formed the resolution of seeking a more full explanation 
with her in the course of the evening. Noma, he remembered, had 
stated that these two amiable young women were in. danger, the nature 


of which she left unexplained, but which he suspected to arise out of 
their mistaking the character of this daring and all-engrossing 
stranger ; and he secretly resolved, that, if possible, he would be 
the means of detecting Cleveland, and of saving his early friends. 

As he revolved these thoughts, his attention to the Miss Groat- 
settars gradually diminished, and perhaps he might altogether have 
forgotten the necessity of his appearing an uninterested spectator of 
what was passing, had not the signal been given for the ladies re- 
tiring from table. Minna, with a native grace, and somewhat of 
statelin^ss in her manner, bent her head to the company in general, 
with a kinder and more particular expression as her eye reached 
Cleveland. Brenda, with the blush which attended her shghtest 
personal exertion when exposed to the eyes of others, hurried 
through the same departing salutation with an embarrassment which 
almost amounted to awkwardness, but which her youth and timidity 
rendered at once natural and interesting. Again Mordaunt thought 
that her eye distinguished him amidst the numerous company. 
For the first time he ventured to encounter and to return the 
glance ; and the consciousness that he had done so doubled the 
glow of Brenda's countenance, while something resembling dis- 
pleasure was blended with her emotion. 

When the ladies had retired, the men betook themselves to the 
deep and serious drinking, which, according to the fashion of the 
times, preceded the evening exercise of the dance. Old Magnus 
himself, by precept and example, exhorted them "to make the 
best use of their time, since the ladies would soon summon them to 
shake their feet." At the same time giving the signal to a grey-headed 
domestic, who stood behind him in the dress of a Dantzic skipper, 
and who added to many other occupations that of butler, " Eric 
Scambester," he said, "has the good ship, the Jolly Mariner of 
Canton, got her cargo on board ? " 

" Chokeful loaded," answered the Ganymede of Burgh- Westra, 
" with good Nantz, Jamaica sugar, Portugal lemons, not to mention 
nutmeg and toast, and water taken in from the Shellicoat spring." 

Loud and long laughed the gujssts at this stated and regular jest 
betwixt the Udaller and his butler, which always served as a preface 
to the introduction of a punch-bowl of enormous size, the gift of 
the captain ofone of the Honourable East India Company's vessels, 
which, bound from China homeward, had been driven north-about 
by stress of weather into Lerwick-bay, and had there contrived to 
get rid of part of the cargo, without very scrupulously reckoning 
for the King's duties. 

Magnus Troil, having been a large customer, besides otherwise 
obliging Captain Coolie, had been remunerated, on the departure of 


the ship, with this splendid vehicle of conviviality, at the very sight 
of which, as old Eric Scambester bent under its weight, a murmur 
of applause ran through the company. The good old toasts dedi- 
cated to the prosperity of Zetland, were then honoured with flowing 
bumpers. " Death to the head that never wears hair ! " was a 
sentiment quaffed to the success of the fishing, as proposed by the 
sonorous voice of the Udaller. Claud Halcro proposed with general 
applause, " The health of their worthy landmaster, the sweet sister 
meat-mistresses ; health to man, death to fish, and growth to the 
produce of the ground." The same recurring sentiment was pro- 
posed more concisely by a whiteheaded compeer of Magnus Troil, 
in the words, " God open the mouth of the o'rey fish, and keep his 
hand about the corn !"* 

Full opportunity was afforded to all to honour these interesting 
toasts. Those nearest the capacious Mediterranean of punch, 
were accommodated by the Udaller with their portions, dispensed 
in huge rummer glasses by his own hospitable hand, whilst they 
who sat at a greater distance replenished their cups by means of a 
rich silver flagon, facetiously called the Pinnace; which, filled 
occasionally at the bowl, served to dispense its liquid treasures to 
the more remote parts of the table, and occasioned many right 
merry jests on its frequent voyages. The commerce of the Zet- 
landers with foreign vessels, and homeward-bound West Indiamen, 
had early served to introduce among them the general use of the 
generous beverage, with which the Jolly Mariner of Canton was 
loaded ; nor was there a man in the archipelago of Thule more 
skilled in combining its rich ingredients, than old Eric Scambester, 
who indeed was known far and wide through the isles by the name 
of the Punch-maker, after the fashion of the ancient Norwegians, 
who conferred on RoUo the Walker, and other heroes of their 
strain, epithets expressive of the feats of strength or dexterity in 
which they excelled all other men. 

The good liquor was not slow in performing its office of exhilara- 
tion, and, as the revel advanced, some ancient Norse drinking- 
songs were sung with great effect by the guests, tending to show, 
that if, from want of exercise, the martial virtues of their ancestors 
had decayed among the Zetlanders, they could still actively and 
intensely enjoy so much of the pleasures of Valhalla as consisted 
in quaffing the oceans of mead and brown ale, which were promised 
by Odin to those who should share his Scandinavian paradise. At 
length, excited by the cup and song, the diffident grew bold, and 
the modest loquacious — all became desirous of talking, and none 
were willing to listen — each man mounted his own special hobby- 
horse, and began eagerly to call on his neighbours to witness his 


agility. Amongst others, the little bard, who had now got next to 
■ our friend Mordaunt Mertoun, evinced a positive determination to 
commence and conclude, in all its longitude and latitude, the story 
of his introduction to glorious John Dryden ; and Triptolemus 
Yellowley, as his spirits arose, shaking off a feeling of involuntary 
awe, with which he was impressed by the opulence indicated in all 
he saw around him, as well as by the respect paid to Magnus Troil 
by the assembled guests, began to broach, to the astonished and 
somewhat offended Udaller, some of those projects for ameliorating 
the islands, which he had boasted of to his fellow-travellers upon 
their journey of the morning. 

But the innovations which he suggested, and the reception which 
they met with at the hand of Magnus Troil, must be told in the next 


We'll keep our customs — what is law itself, 

But old establish'd custom ? What rehgion, 

(I mean, with one-half of the men that use it,) 

Save the good use and wont that carries them 

To worship how and where their fathers worshipp'd ? 

All things resolve in custom — we'll keep ours. 

Old Play. 

We left the company of Magnus Troil engaged in high wassail 
and revelry. Mordaunt, who, like his father, shunned the festive 
cup, did not partake in the cheerfulness which the ship diffused 
among the guests as they unloaded it, and the pinnace, as it circum- 
navigated the table. But, in low spirits as he seemed, he was the 
more meet prey for the story-telling Halcro, who had fixed upon 
him, as in a.favourable state to play the part of listener, with some- 
thing of the same instinct that directs the hooded crow to the sick 
sheep among the flock, which will most patiently suffer itself to be 
made a prey of. Joyfully did the poet avail himself of the advan- 
tages afforded by Mordaunt's absence of mind, and unwillingness 
to exert himself in measures of active defence. With the unfailing 
dexterity peculiar to prosers, he contrived to dribble out his tale 
to double its usual length, by the exercise of the privilege of un- 
limited digressions ; so that the story, like a horse on the grand 
pas, seemed to be advancing with rapidity, while, in reality, it 


scarce was progressive at the rate of a yard in the quarter of an 
hour. At length, however, he had discussed, in all its various 
bearings and relations, the history of his friendly landlord, the 
master fashioner in Russel Street, including a short sketch of five 
of his relations, and anecdotes of three of his principal rivals, 
together with some general observations upon the dress and 
fashion of the period ; and having marched thus far through the 
environs and outworks of his' story, he arrived at the body of the 
place, for so the Wits' Coffeehouse might be termed. He paused 
on the threshold, however, to explain the nature of his landlord's 
right occasionally to intrude himself into this well-known temple of 
the Muses. 

" It consisted," said Halcro, " in the two principal points, of 
bearing and forbearing ; for my friend Thimblethwaite was a 
person of wit himself, and never quarrelled with any jest which the 
wags who frequented that house were ilinging about, like squibs 
knd crackers on a rejoicing night ; and then, though some of the 
wits — ay, and I daresay the greater number, might have had some 
dealings with him in the way of trade, he never was the person to 
put any man of genius in unpleasant remembrance of such trifles. 
And though, my dear young Master Mordaunt, you may think this 
is but ordinary civility, because in this country it happens seldom 
that there is either much borrowing, or lending, and because, 
praised be Heaven, there are neither bailiffs nor sherifT-dflicers to 
take a poor fellow by the neck, and because there are no prisons to 
put him into when they have done so, yet, let me tell you, that 
such a lamblike forbearance as that of my poor, dear, deceased 
landlord, Thimblethwaite, is truly uncommon within the London 
bills of mortality. I could tell you of such things that have hap- 
pened even to myself, as well as others, with these cursed London 
tradesmen, as would make your hair stand on end. — But what the 
devil has put old Magnus into such note .-' he shouts as if he were 
trying his voice against a north-west gale of wind." 

Loud indeed was the roar of the old Udaller, as, worn out of 
patience by the schemes of improvement which the factor was now 
undauntedly pressing upon his consideration, he answered him, (to 
use an Ossianic phrase,) like a wave upon a rock, 

" Trees, Sir Factor— talk not to me of trees ! I care not though 
there never be one on the island, tall enough to hang a coxcomb 
upon. We will have no trees but those that rise in our havens — 
the good trees that have yards for boughs, and standing-rigging 
for leaves." 

" But touching the draining of the lake of Braebaster, whereof I 
spoke to you, Master Magnus Troil," said the persevering agricul- 


turist, " whilk I opine would be of so much consequence, there are 
two ways— down the Linklater glen, or by the Scalmester burn, 
Now, having taken the level of both" 

" There is a third way. Master Yellowley," answered the land- 

" I profess I can see none," replied Triptolemus, with as much 
good faith as a joker could desire in the subject of his wit, " in 
respect that the hill called Braebaster on the south, and ane high 
bank on the north, of whilk I cannot carry the name rightly in my 

" Do not tell us of hills and banks, Master YeUowIey— there is 
a third way of draining the loch, and it is the only way that shall 
be tried in my day. You say my Lord Chamberlain and I are the 
joint proprietors — so be it— let each of us start an equal proportion 
of brandy, lime-juice, and sugar, into the loch — a ship's cargo or 
two will do the job — let us assemble all the jolly Udallers of the 
country, and in twenty-four hours you shall see dry ground where 
the loch of Braebaster now is." 

A loud laugh of applause, which for a time actually silenced 
Triptolemus, attended a jest so very well suited to time and place— 
a jolly toast was given — a merry song was sung — the ship unloaded 
her sweets — the pinnace made its genial rounds — the duet betwixt 
Magnus and Triptolemus, which had attracted the attention of the 
whole company from its superior vehemence, now once more sunk, 
and merged into the general hum of the convivial table, and the 
poet Halcro again resumed his usurped possession of the ear of 
Mordaunt Mertoun. 

" Whereabouts was I ? " he said, with a tone which expressed to 
his weary listener more plainly than words could, how much of 
his desultory tale yet remained to be told. " O, I remember — we 
were just at the door of the Wits' Coffeehouse — it was set up by 

" Nay, but, my dear Master Halcro," said his hearer, some- 
what impatiently, " I am desirous to hear of your meeting with 

" What, with glorious John ? — true — ay — where was I ? At the 
Wits' Coffeehouse — Well, in at the door we got — the waiters, and 
so forth, staring at me ; for as to Thimblethwaite, honest fellow, 
his was a well-known face. — I can tell you a story about that" 

"Nay, but John Dryden?" said Mordaunt, in a tone which 
deprecated further digression. 

" Ay, ay, glorious John — where was I ?— Well, as we stood close 
by the bar, where one fellow sat grinding of coffee, and another 
putting up tobacco into penny parcels — a pipe and a dish cost just 


a penny— then and there it was that I had the first peep of him. 
One Dennis sat near him, who" 

" Nay, but John Dryden — what hke was he?" demanded Mordaunt. 

*' Like a little fat old man, with his own grey hair, and in a full- 
trimmed black suit, that sat close as a glove. Honest Thimble- 
thwaite let no one but himself shape for glorious John, and he had a 
slashing hand at a sleeve, I promise you — But there is no getting 
a mouthful of common sense spoken here — d — n that Scotchman, 
he and old Magnus are at it again !" 

It was very true ; and although the interruption did not resemble 
a thunder-clap, to which the former stentorian exclamation of the 
Udaller might have been likened, it was a close and clamorous 
dispute, maintained by question, answer, retort, and repartee, as 
closely huddled upon each other as the sounds which announce 
from a distance a close and sustained fire of musketry. 

"Hear reason, sir?" said the Udaller; "we will hear reason, 
and speak reason too ; and if reason fall short, you shall have 
rhyme to boot. — Ha, my little friend Halcro ! " 

Though cut off in the middle of his best story, (if that could be 
said to have a middle, which had neither beginning nor end,) the 
bard bristled up at the summons, like a corps of light infantry 
when ordered up to the support of the grenadiers, looked smart, ' 
slapped the table with his hand, and denoted his becoming readi- 
ness to back his hospitable landlord, as becomes a well-entertained 
guest. Triptolemus was a little daunted at this reinforcement of 
his adversary ; he paused, like a cautious general, in the sweeping 
attack which he had commenced on the peculiar usages of Zetland, 
and spoke not again until the Udaller poked him with the insulting 
query, " Where is your reason now, Master Yellowley, that you 
were deafening me with a moment since?" 

" Be but patient, worthy sir," replied the agriculturist ; " what 
on earth can you or any other man say in defence of that thing 
you call a plough, in this blinded country ? Why, even the savage 
Highlandmen, in Caithness and Sutherland, can make more work, 
and better, with their gascromh, or whatever they call it." 

" But what ails you at it, sir ? " said the Udaller ; " let me hear 
your objections to it. It tills our land, and what would ye more ?" 

" It hath but one handle or stilt," replied Triptolemus. 

" And who the devil," said the poet, aiming at something smart, 
" would wish to need a pair of stilts, if he can manage to walk 
with a single one ? " 

"Or tell me," said Magnus Troil, "how it were possible for 
Neil of Lupness, that lost one arm by his fall from the crag of 
Nekbreckan, to manage a plough with two handles ? " 


" The harness is of raw seal-skin," said Triptolemus. 

" It will save dressed leather," answered Magnus TroiL 

" It is drawn by four wretched bullocks," said the agriculturist, 
"that are yoked breast-fashion; and two women must follow this 
unhappy instrument, and complete the furrows with a couple of 

" Drink about. Master Yellowley," said the Udaller ; " and, as 
you say in Scotland, 'never fash your thumb.' Our cattle are too 
high-spirited to let one go before the other ; our men are two gentle 
and well-nurtured to take the working-field without the women's 
company ; our ploughs till our land — our land bears us barley ; we 
brew our ale, eat our bread, and make strangers welcome to their 
share of it. Here's to you. Master Yellowley." 

This was said in a tone meant to be decisive of the question ; 
and, accordingly, Halcro whispered to Mordaunt, "That has 
settled the matter, and now we will get on with glorious John. — 
There he sat in his suit of full-trimmed black ; two years due was 
the bill, as mine honest landlord afterwards told me, — and such an 
eye in his head ! — none of your burning, blighting, falcon eyes, 
which we poets are apt to make a rout about, — but a soft, full, 
thoughtful, yet penetrating glance — never saw the like of it in my 
life, unless it were little Stephen Kleancogg's, the fiddler, at 
Papastow, who" 

" Nay, but John Dryden ? " said Mordaunt, who, for want of 
better amusement, had begun to take a sort of pleasure in keeping 
the old gentleman to his narrative, as men herd in a restiff sheep, 
when they wish to catch him. He returned to his theme, with his 
usual phrase of " Ay, true — glorious John — Well, sir, he cast his 
eye, such as I have described it, on mine landlord, and ' Honest 
Tim,' said he^ ' what hast thou got here ? ' and all the wits, and 
lords, and gentlemen, that used to crowd round him, like the 
wenches round a pedlar at a fair, they made way for us, and up we 
came to the fireside, where he had his own established chair,— I 
have heard it was carried to the balcony in summer, but it was 
by the fireside when I saw it, — so up came Tim Thimblethwaite, 
through the midst of them, as bold as a lion, and I followed with a 
small parcel under my arm, which I had taken up partly to oblige 
my landlord, as the shop porter was not in the way, and partly that 
I might be thought to have something to do there, for you are to 
think there was no admittance at the Wits' for strangers who had 
no business there. — I have heard that Sir Charles Sedley said a 
good thing about that " 

" Nay, but you forget glorious John," said Mordaunt. 

" Ay, glorious you may well call him. They talk of their Black- 


more, and Shadwell, and such like, — not fit to tie the latchets of 
John's shoes — ' Well,' he said to my landlord, ' what have you got 
there ? ' and he, bowing, I warrant, lower than he would to a duke, 
said he had made bold to come and show him the stuff which Lady 
Elizabeth had chose for her nightgown. — ' And which of your geese 
is that, Tim, who has got it tucked under his wing?' — ' He is an 
Orkney goose, if it please you, Mr. Dryden,' said Tim, who had wit 
at will, ' and he hath brought you a copy of verses for your honour 
to look at.' — ' Is he amphibious ? ' said glorious John, taking the 
paper, — and methought I could rather have faced a battery of can- 
non than the crackle it gave as it opened, though he did not speak 
in a way to dash one neither ; — and then he looked at the verses, 
and he was pleased to say, in a very encouraging way indeed, with 
a sort of good-humoured smile on his face, and certainly for a fat 
elderly gentleman, — for I would not compare it to Minna's smile, or ' 
Brenda's,— he had the pleasantest smile I ever saw, — ' Why, Tim,' he 
said, ' this goose of yours will prove a swan on your hands.' With 
that he smiled a little, and they all laughed, and none louder than 
those who stood too far off to hear the jest ; for every one knew 
when he smiled there was something worth laughing at, and so 
took it upon trust ; and the word passed through among the 
young Templars, and the wits, and the smarts, and there was 
nothing but question on, question who we were; and one French 
fellow was trying to tell them it was only Monsieur Tim Thimble- 
thwaite ; but he made such work with his Dumbletalte and Timble- 
tate, that I thought his explanation would have lasted '.' 

"As long as your own story," thought Mordaunt ; but the narra- 
tive was at length finally cut short, by the strong and decided voice 
of the Udaller. 

" I will hear no more on it, Mr. Factor ! " he exclaimed. 

" At least let me say something about the breed of horses," said 
Yellowley, in rather a cry-mercy tone of voice. " Your horses, my 
dear sir, resemble cats in size, and tigers in devilry ! " 

" For their size," said Magnus, " they are the easier for us to get 
off and on them — [as Triptolemus experienced this morning, thought 
Mordaunt to himself] — and, as for their devilry, let no one mount 
them that cannot manage them." 

A twinge of self-conviction, on the part of the agriculturist, 
prevented him from reply. He darted a deprecatory glance at 
Mordaunt, as if for the purpose of imploring secrecy respecting his 
tumble ; and the Udaller, who saw his advantage, although he was 
not aware of the cause, pursued it with the high and stern tone 
proper to one who had all his life been unaccustomed to meet with, 
and unapt to endure, opposition. 


" By the blood of Saint Magnus the Martyr," he said, "but you 
are a fine fellow, Master Factor Yellowley ! You come to us from 
a strange land, understanding neither our laws, nor our manners, 
nor our language, and you propose to become governor of the 
country, and that we should all be your slaves ! " 

" My pupils, worthy sir, my pupils ! " said Yellowley, " and that 
only for your own proper advantage." 

" We are too old to go to school," said the Zetlander. " I tell 
you once more, we will sow and reap our grain as our fathers did— 
we will eat what God sends us, with our doors open to the stranger, 
even as theirs were open. If there is aught imperfect in our prac- 
tice, we will amend it in time and season ; but the blessed Baptist's 
holyday was made for light hearts and quick heels. He that speaks 
a word more of reason,- as you call it, or anything that looks like it, 
shall swallow a pint of sea-water — he shall, by this hand ! — and so 
fill up the good ship, the Jolly Mariner of Canton, once more, for 
the benefit of those that will stick by her ; and let the rest have a 
fling with the fiddlers, who have been summoning us this hour. I 
will warrant every wench is on tiptoe by this time. Come, Mr. 
Yellowley, no unkindness, man — why, man, thou feelest the 
rolling of the Jolly Mariner still " — (for, in truth, honest Tripto- 
lemus showed a little unsteadiness of motion, as he rose to attend 
his host) — " but never mind, we shall have thee find thy land- 
legs to reel it with yonder bonny belles. Come along, Triptolemus 
— let me grapple thee fast, lest thou trip, old Triptolemus — ha, 
ha, ha ! " 

So saying, the portly though weatherbeaten hulk of the Udaller 
sailed off like a man-of-war that had braved a hundred gales, 
having his guest in tow like a recent prize. The greater part of 
the revellers followed their leader with loud jubilee, although there 
were several staunch topers, who, taking the option left them by 
the Udaller, remained behind to relieve the Jolly Mariner of a fresh 
cargo, amidst many pledges to the health of their absent lardlord, 
and to the prosperity of his roof-tree, with whatsoever other wishes 
of kindness could be devised, as an apology for another pint-bumper 
of noble punch. 

The rest soon thronged the dancing-room, an apartment which 
partook of the simplicity of the time and of the country. Draw- 
ing-rooms and saloons were then unknown in Scotland, save in the 
houses of the nobility, and of course absolutely so in Zetland ; but 
a long, low, anomalous store-room, sometimes used for the deposi- 
tation of merchandise, sometimes for putting aside lumber, and a 
thousand other purposes, was well known to all the youth of Dun- 
rossness, and of many a district besides, as the scene of the merry 


dance, which was sustained with so mucn glee when Magnus Troil 
gave his frequent feasts. 

The first appearance of this ball-room might have shocked a 
fashionable party, assembled for the quadrille or the waltz. Low 
as we have stated the apartment to be, it was but imperfectly illu- 
minated by lamps, candles, ship-lanterns, and a variety of other 
candelabra, which served to throw a dusky light upon the floor, 
and upon the heaps of merchandise and miscellaneous articles 
which were piled around ; some of them stores for the winter ; 
some, goods destined for exportation ; some, the tribute of Nep- 
tune, paid at the expense of shipwrecked vessels, whose owners 
were unknown ; some, articles of barter received by the proprietor, 
who, like most others at the period, was somewhat of a merchant 
as well as a landholder, in exchange for the fish, and other articles, 
the produce of his estate. All these, with the chests, boxes, 
casks, &c., which contained them, had been drawn aside, and piled 
one above the other, in order to give room for the dancers, who, 
light and lively as if they had occupied the most splendid saloon in 
the parish of St. James's, executed their national dances with equal 
grace and activity. 

The group of old men who looked on, bore no inconsiderable 
resemblance to a party of aged tritons, engaged in beholding the 
sports of the sea-nymphs ; so hard a look had most of them 
acquired by contending with the elements, and so much did the 
shaggy hair and beards, which many of them cultivated afteir the 
ancient Norwegian fashion, give their heads the character of these 
supposed natives of the deep. The young people, on the other 
hand, were uncommonly handsome, tall, well made, and shapely ; 
tte men with long fair hair, and, until broken by the weather, a 
fresh ruddy complexion, which, in the females, was softened into a 
bloom of infinite delicacy. Their natural good ear for music 
qualified them to second to the utmost the exertions of a band, 
whose strains were by no means contemptible ; while the elders, 
who stood around or sat quiet upon the old sea-chests, which served 
for chairs, criticised the dancers, as they compared their execution 
with their own exertions in former days ; or, warmed by the cup 
and flagon, which continued to circulate among them, snapped their 
fingers, and beat time with their feet to the music. 

Mordaunt looked ilpon this scene of universal mirth with the 
painful recollection, that he, thrust aside from his pre-eminence, 
no longer exercised the important duties of chief of the dancers, 
or office of leader of the revels, which had been assigned to the 
stranger Cleveland. Anxious, however, to suppress the feelings of 
hiiown disappointment, which he felt it was neither wise to enter- 

L 2 


tain nor manl^to display, he approached his fair neighbours, to whom 
he had been so acceptable at table, with the purpose of inviting one 
of them to become his partner in the dance. But the awfully ancient 
old lady, even the Lady Glowrowrum, who had only tolerated the 
exuberance of her nieces' mirth during the time of dinner, because 
her situation rendered it then impossible for her to interfere, was 
not disposed to permit the apprehended renewal of the intimacy 
implied in Mertoun's invitation. She therefore took upon herself, 
in the name of her two nieces, who sat pouting beside her in dis- 
pleased silence, to inform Mordaunt, after thanking him for his 
civility, that the hands of her nieces were engaged for that even- 
ing ; and, as he continued to watch the party at a little distance, 
he had an opportunity of being convinced that the alleged engage- 
ment was a mere apology to get rid of him, when he saw the two 
good-humoured sisters join in the dance, under the auspices of the 
next young men who asked their hands. Incensed at so marked a 
slight, and unwilling to expose himself to another, Mordaunt Mer- 
toun drew back from the circle of dancers, shrouded himself 
amongst the mass of inferior persons who crowded into the bottom 
of the room as spectators, and there, concealed from the observa- 
tion of others, digested his own mortification as well as he could — 
that is to say, very ill— and with all the philosophy of his age — that 
is to say, with none at all. 


A torch for me — let wantons, light of heart, 
Tickle the useless rushes with their heels : 
For I am proverb'd with a grandsire phrase — 
I'll be a candle-holder, and look on. 

Romeo and Juliet. 

The youth, says the moralist Johnson, care? not for the boy's 
hobbyhorse, nor the man for the youth's mistress ; and therefore 
the distress of Mordaunt Mertoun, when excluded from the merry 
dance, may seem trifling to many of my readers, who would, never- 
theless, think thay did well to be angry if deposed from their usual 
place in an assembly of a different kind. There lacked not amuse- 
ment, however, for those whom the dance did not suit, or who were 
not happy enough to find partners to their liking. Halcro, now 
completely in his element, had assembled round him an audience, 
to whom he was declaiming his poetry with all the enthusiasm of 


glorious John himself, and receiving in return the usual degree of 
applause allowed to minstrels who recite their own rhymes — so 
long at least as the author is within hearing of the criticism. 
Halcro's poetry might indeed have interested the antiquary as well 
as the admirer of the Muses, for several of his pieces were transla- 
tions or imitations from the Scaldic sagas, which continued to be 
sung by the fishermen of those islands even until a very late 
period ; insomuch, that when Gray's poems first found their way 
to Orkney, the old people recognised at once, in the ode of the 
" Fatal Sisters," the Runic rhymes which had amused or terrified 
their infancy under the title of the " Magicians," and which the 
fishers of North Ronaldshaw, and other remote isles, used still to 
sing when asked for a Norse ditty.* 

Half listening, half lost in his own reflections, Mordaunt Mer- 
toun stood near the door of the apartment, and in the outer ring of 
the little circle formed around old Halcro, while the bard chanted to 
a low, wild, monotonous air, varied only by the efforts of the singer 
to give interest and emphasis to particular passages, the following 
imitation of a Northern war-song : 

Cfie Song of J^arolti fl^arfaget. 

The sun is rising dimly red. 
The wind is wailing low and dread ; 
From his cliff the eagle sallies. 
Leaves the wolf his darksome valleys ; 
In the midst the ravens hover, 
Peep the wild-dogs from the cover. 
Screaming, croaking, baying, yelling, 
Each in his wild accents telling, 
" Soon we feast on dead and dying, 
Fair-haired Harold's flag is flying." 

Many a crest in air is streaming, 
Many a helmet darkly gleaming. 
Many an arm the axe uprears, 
Doom'd to hew the wood of spears. 
All along the crowded ranks. 
Horses neigh and armour clanks ; 
Chiefs are shouting, clarions ringing. 
Louder still the bard is singing, 

Gather, footmen — gather, horsemen, 
f o the field, ye valiant Norsemen ! 

" Halt ye not for food or slumber, 
View not vantage, count not number ; 


Jolly reapers, forward still ; 
Grow the crop on vale or hill, 
Thick or scatter'd, stiff, or lithe, 
It shall down before the scythe. 
Forward, with your sickles bright, 
Reap the harvest of the fight — 
Onward, footmen, — onward, horsemen. 
To the charge ye gallant Norsemen ! 

~ " Fatal Choosers of the Slaughter, 
O'er you hovers Odin's daughter ; 
Hear the voice she spreads before ye, — 
Victory, and wealth, and glory ; 
Or old Valhalla's roaring hail. 
Her ever-circling mead and ale. 
Where for eternity unite 
The joys of wassail and of fight. 
Headlong forward, foot and horsemen, 
Charge and fight, and die like Norsemen ! " 

" The poor unhappy blinded heathens ! " said Triptolemus, with 
a sigh deep enough for a groan ; " they speak of their eternal cups 
of ale, and I question if they kend how to manage a croft land of 
grain ! " 

" The cleverer fellows they, neighbour Yellowley," answered the 
poet, " if they made ale without barley." 

' Barley ! — alack-a-day ! " replied the more accurate agriculturist, 
" who ever heard of barley in these parts ? Bear, my dearest friend, 
bear is all they have, and wonderment it is to me that they ever see 
an awn of it. Ye scart the land with a bit thing ye ca' a pleugh— 
yet might as weel give it a ritt with the teeth of a redding-kame. 
O, to see the sock, and the heel, and the sole-clout of a real 
steady Scottish pleugh, with a chield like a Samson between the 
stilts, laying a weight on them would keep down a mountain ; twa 
stately owsen, and as rnany broad-breasted horse in the traces, 
going through soil and till, and leaving a fur in the ground would 
carry off water like a causeyed syver ! They that have seen a sight 
like that, have seen something to crack about in another sort, than 
those unhappy auld-warld stories of war and slaughter, of which the 
land has seen even but too mickle, for a' your singing and sough- 
ing awa in praise of such bloodthirsty doings, Master Claud 

" It is a heresy," said the animated little poet, bridling and draw- 
ing himself up, as if the whole defence of the Orcadian Archipelago 
rested on his single arm — " It is a heresy, so much as to name one's 
native country, if a man is not prepared when and how to defend 


himself— ay, and to annoy another. The time has been, that if we 
made not good ale and aquavitas, we knew well enough where to find 
that which was ready made to our hand ; but now, the descendants 
of Sea-kings, and Champions-, and Berserkars, are become as inca- 
pable of using their swords, as if they were so many women. Ye 
may praise them for a strong pull on an oar, or a sure foot on a 
skerry; but what else could glorious John himself say of ye, my 
good Hailtlanders, that any man would listen to ? " 

" Spoken like an angel, most noble poet," said Cleveland, who, 
during an interv^J of the dance, stood near the party in which this 
conversation was held. "The old champions you talked to us 
about yesternight, were the men to make a harp ring — gallant 
fellows, that were friends to the sea, and enemies to all that sailed 
on it. Their ships, t suppose, were clumsy, enough ; but if it is 
true that they went upon the account as far as the Levant, I scarce 
believe that ever better fellows unloosed a topsail." 

"Ay," replied Halcro, " there you spoke them right. In those 
days none could call their life and means of living their own, unless 
they dwelt twenty miles out of sight of the blue sea. Why, they 
had public prayers put up in every church in Europe, for deliver- 
ance from the ire of the Northmen. In France and England, ay, 
and in Scotland too, for as high as they hold their head now-a-days, 
there was not a bay or a haven, but it was freer to our forefathers 
than to the poor devils of natives ; and now we cannot, forsooth, 
so much as grow our own barley without Scottish help " — (here he 
darted a sarcastic glance at the factor) — " I would I saw the time 
we were to measure arms with them again ! " 

" Spoken like a hero once more," said Cleveland. 

" Ah ! " continued the little bard, " I would it were possible to 
see our barks, once the water-dragons of the world, swimming with 
the black raven standard waving at the topmast, and their decks 
glimmering with arms, instead of being heaped up with stockfish — 
winning with our fearless hands what the niggard soil denies — 
paying back all old scorn and modern injury — reaping where we 
never sowed, and felling what we never planted — living and laugh- 
ing through the world, and smiling when we were summoned to 
quit it ! " 

So spoke Claud Halcro, in no serious, or at least most certainly 
in no sober mood, his brain (never the most stable) whizzing under 
the influence of fifty well-remembered sagas, besides five bumpers 
of usquebaugh and brandy ; and Cleveland, between jest and 
earnest, clapped him on the shoulder, and again repeated, " Spoken 
like a hero ! " 

" Spoken like a fool, I think," said Magnus Troil, whose attention 


had been also attracted by the vehemence of the little bard— 
" where would you cruize upon, or against whom ?— we are all sub- 
jects of one realm, I trow, and I would have you to remember, that 
your voyage may bring you up at Execution-dock. — I like not the 
Scots— no offence, Mr. Yellowley— that is, I would like them well 
enough if they would stay quiet in their own land, and leave us at 
peace with our own people, and manners, and fashions ; and if 
they would but abide there till I went to harry them like a mad old 
Berserkar, I would leave them in peace till the day of judgment. 
With what the sea sends us, and the land lends us, as the proverb 
says, and a set of honest neighbourly folks to help us to consume 
it, so help me. Saint Magnus, as I think we are even but too 
happy ! " 

' I know what war is," said an old man, " and I would as soon 
sail through Sumburgh-roost in a cockle-shell, or in a worse loom, 
as I would venture there again." 

" And, pray, what wars knew your valour ? " said Halcro, who, 
though forbearing to contradict his landlord from a sense of respect, 
was not a whit inclined to abandon his argument to any meaner 

" I was pressed," answered the old Triton, " to serve under Mon- 
trose, when he came here- about the sixteen hundred and fifty-one, 
and carried a sort of us off, will ye niU ye, to get our throats ^;ut in 
the wilds of Strathnavern* — I shall never forget it — we had been 
hard put to it for victuals — what would I have given for a luncheon 
of Burgh-Westra beef— ay, or a mess of sour sillocks .' — When our 
Highlandmen brought in a dainty drove of kyloes, much ceremony 
there was not, for we shot and felled, and flayed, and roasted, and 
broiled, as it came to every man's hand ; till, just as our beards 
were at the greasiest, we heard — God preserve us — a tramp of 
horse, then twa or three drapping shots, — ^then came a full Salvo,— 
and then, when the officers were crying on us to stand, and maist 
of us looking which way we might run away, down they broke, 
horse and foot, with old John Urry, or Hurry,* or whatever they 
called him — ^he hurried us that day, and worried us to boot — and 
we began to fall as thick as the stots that we were felling five 
minutes before." 

"And Montrose," said the soft voice of the graceful Minna; 
" what became of Montrose, or how looked he .' " 

"Like a lion with the hunters before him," answered the old 
gentlemen ; " but I looked not twice his way, for my own lay right 
over the hill." 

"And so you left him?" said Minna, in a tone of the deepest 


' It was no fault of mine, Mistress Minna," answered the old 
man, somewhat out of countenance ; " but I was there with no 
choice of my own ; and, besides, what good could I have done ? — 
all the rest were running like sheep, and why should I have staid ? " 

" You might have died with him," said Minna. 

" And lived with him to all eternity, in immortal verse ! " added 
Claud Halcro. 

"I thank you, Mistress Minna," replied the plain-dealing Zet- 
lander ; " and I thank you, my old friend Claud ; — but I would 
rather drink both your healths in this good bicker of ale, like a 
living man as I am, than that you should be making songs in my 
honour, for having died forty or fifty years agone. But what sig- 
nified it, — run or fight, 'twas all one ; — they took Montrose, poor 
feUow, for all his doughty deeds, and they took me that did no 
doughty deeds at all ; and they hanged him, poor man, and as for 

" I trust in Heaven they flogged and pickled you," said Cleve- 
land, worn out of patience with the dull narrative of the peaceful 
Zetlander's poltroonery, of which he seemed so wondrous little 

" Flog horses, and pickle beef," said Magnus ; " Why, you have 
not the vanity to think, that, with all your quarterdeck airs, you 
will make poor old neighbour Haagen ashamed that he was not 
killed some scores of years since? You have looked on death 
yourself, my doughty young friend, but it was with the eyes of a 
young man who wishes to be thought of ; but we are a peaceful 
people, — ^peaceful, that is, as long as any one should be peaceful, 
and that is till some one has the impudence to wrong us, or our 
neighbours ; and then, perhaps, they may not find our northern 
blood much cooler in our veins than was that of the old Scandi- 
navians that gave us our names and, lineage. — Get ye along, get ye 
along to the sword-dance,* that the strangers that are amongst us 
may see that our hands and our weapons are not altogether unac- 
quainted even yet." 

A dozen cutlasses, selected hastily from an old arm-chest, and 
whose rusted hue bespoke how seldom they left the sheath, armed 
the same number of young Zetlanders, with whom mingled six 
maidens, led by Minna Troil ; and the minstrelsy instantly com- 
menced a tune appropriate to the ancient Norwegian war-dance, 
the evolutions of which are perhaps still practised in those remote 

The first movement was graceful and majestic, the youths hold- 
ing their swords erect, and without much gesture ; but the tune, 
and the corresponding motions of the dancers, became gradually 


more and more rapid,— they clashed their swords together, in 
measured time, with a spirit which gave the exercise a dangerous 
appearance in the eye of the spectator, though the firmness, justice, 
and accuracy, with which the dancers kept time with the stroke of 
their weapons, did, in truth, ensure its safety. The most singular 
part of the exhibition was the courage exhibited by the female per- 
formers, who now, surrounded by the swordsmen, seemed like the 
Sabine maidens in the hands of their Roman lovers ; now, moving 
under the arch of steel which the young men had formed, by cross- 
ing their weapons over the heads of their fair partners, resembled 
the band of Amazons when they first joined in the Pyrrhic dance 
with the followers of Theseus. But by far the most striking and 
appropriate figure was that of Minna Troil, whom Halcro had long 
since entitled the Queen of Swords, and who, indeed, moved 
amidst the swordsmen with an air, which seemed to hold all the 
drawn blades as the proper accompaniments of her person, and the 
implements of her pleasure. And when the mazes of the dance 
became more intricate, when the close and continuous clash of the 
weapons made some of her companions shrink, and show signs of 
fear, her cheek, her lip, and her eye, seemed rather to announce, 
that, at the moment when the weapons flashed fastest, and rung 
sharpest around her, she was most completely self-possessed, and 
in her own element. Last of all, when the music had ceased, and 
she remained for an instant upon the floor by herself, as the rule of 
the dance required, the swordsmen and maidens, who departed 
from around her, seemed the guards and the train of some princess, 
who, dismissed by her signal, were leaving her for a time to soli- 
tude. Her own look and attitude, wrapped, as she probably was, 
in some vision of the imagination, corresponded admirably with the 
ideal dignity which the spectators ascribed to her ; but, almost 
immediately recollecting herself, she blushed, as if conscious she 
had been, though but for an instant, the object of undivided atten- 
tion, and gave her hand gracefully to Cleveland, who, though he 
had not joined in the dance, assumed the duty of conducting her to 
her seat. 

As they passed, Mordaunt Mertoun might observe that Cleveland 
whispered into Minna's ear, and that her brief reply was accom- 
panied with even more discomposure of countenance than she had 
manifested when encountering the gaze of the whole assembly. 
Mordaunt's suspicions were strongly awakened by what he ob- 
served, for he knew Minna's character well, and with what equa- 
nimity and indifference she was in the custom of receiving the 
usual compliments and gallantries with which her beauty and her 
situation rendered her sufficiently familiar. 


" Can it be possible she really loves this stranger ? " was the un- 
pleasant thought that instantly shot across Mordaunt's mind ; — 
" And if she does, what is my interest in the matter ? " was the 
second ; and which was quickly followed by the reflection, that 
though he claimed no interest at any time but as a friend, and 
though that interest was now withdrawn, he was still, in considera- 
tion of their former intimacy, entitled both to be sorry and angry 
at her for throwing away her affections on one he judged unworthy 
of her. In this process of reasoning, it is probable that a little 
mortified vanity, or some indescribable shade of selfish regret, 
might be endeavouring to assume the disguise of disinterested 
generosity ; but there is so much of base alloy in our very best 
(unassisted) thoughts, that it is melancholy work to criticise too 
closely the motives of our most Worthy actions ; at least we would 
recommend to every one to let those of his neighbours pass cur- 
rent, however narrowly he may examine the purity of his own. 

The sword-dance was succeeded by various other specimens of 
the same exercise, and by songs, to which the singers lent their 
whole soul, while the audience were sure, as occasion offered, to 
unite in some favourite chorus. It is upon such occasions that 
music, though of a simple and even rude character, finds its natural 
empire over the generous bosom, and produces that strong excite- 
ment which cannot be attained by- the most learned compositions 
of the first masters, which are caviare to the common ear, although, 
doubtless, they afford a delight, exquisite in its kind, to enable those 
whose natural capacity and education have enabled them to com- 
prehend and relish those difficult and comolicated combinations of 

It was about midnight when a knocking at the door of the 
mansion, with the sound of the Gue and the Langspiel, announced, 
by their tinkling chime, the arrival of fresh revellers, to whom, 
according to the hospitable custom of the country, the apartments 
were instantly thrown open. 



-My mind misgives, 

Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, 
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date 
With this night's revels. 

Romeo and Juliet. 

The new-comers were, according to the frequent custom of such 
frolickers all over the world, disguised in a sort of masquing habits, 
and designed to represent the Tritons and Mermaids, with whom 
ancient tradition and popular belief have peopled the northern seas. 
The former, called, by Zetlanders of that time, Shoupeltins, were 
represented by young men grotesquely habited, with false hair, and 
beards made of flax, and chaplets composed of sea-ware interwoven 
with shells, and other marine productions, with which also were 
decorated their light-blue or greenish mantles of wadmaal, re- 
peatedly before-mentioned. They had fish-spears, and other em- 
blems of their assumed quaUty, amongst which the classical taste 
of Claud Halcro, by whom the masque was arranged, had not 
forgotten the conch-shells, which were stoutly and hoarsely winded, 
from time to time, by one or two of the aquatic deities, to the great 
annoyance of all who stood near them. 

The Nereids and Water-nymphs who attended on this occasion, 
displayed, as usual, a little more taste and ornament than was to 
be seen amongst their male attendants. Fantastic garments of 
green silk, and other materials of superior cost and fashion, had 
been contrived, so as to imitate their idea of the inhabitants of the 
waters, and, at the same time, to show the shape and features of 
the fair wearers to the best advantage. The bracelets and shells, 
which adorned the neck, arms, and ankles of the pretty Mer- 
maidens, were, in some cases, intermixed with real pearls ; and the 
appearance, upon the whole, was such as might have done no dis- 
credit to the court of Amphitrite, especially when the long bright 
locks, blue eyes, fair complexions, and pleasing features of the 
maidens of Thule, were taken into consideration. We do not 
indeed pretend to aver, that any of these seeming Mermaids had so 
accurately imitated the real siren, as commentators have supposed 
those attendant on Cleopatra did, who, adopting the fish's train of 
their original, were able, nevertheless, to make their " bends," or 
"ends," (said commentators cannot tell which,) "adornings."* 
Indeed, had they not left their extremities in their natural s^ate, it 
would have been impossible for the Zetland sirens to have executed 


the very pretty dance, with which they rewarded the company for 
the ready admission which had been granted to them. 

It was soon discovered that these masquers were no strangers, 
but a part of the guests, who, stealing out a little, time before, had 
thus disguised themselves, in order to give variety to the mirth of 
the evening. The muse of Claud Halcro, always active on such 
occasions, had supplied them with an appropriate song, of which 
we may give the following specimen. The song was alternate be- 
twixt a Nereid or Mermaid, and a Merman or Triton— the males 
and females on either part forming a semi-chorus, which accom- 
panied and bore burden to the principal singer. 


Fathoms deep beneath the wave, 

Stringing beads of glistering peai 
Singing the achievements brave 

Of many an old Norwegian earl ; 
Dwelling where the tempest's raving 

Falls as light upon our ear, 
As the sigh of lover, craving 

Pity from his lady dear. 
Children of wild Thule, we. 
From the deep caves of the sea. 
As the lark springs from the lea. 
Hither come; to share your glee. 



From reining of the water-horse. 

That bounded till the waves were foaming, 
Watching the infant tempest's course. 

Chasing the sea-snake in his roaming ; 
From winding charge-notes on the shell, 

When the huge whale and sword-fish duel. 
Or toUing shroudless seamen's knellj 

When the winds and waves are cruel ; 
Children of wild Thule, we 
Have plough'd such furrows on the sea, 
As the steer draws on the lea, 
And hither we come to share your glee. 



We heard you in our twilight caves, 
A hundred fathom deep below, 


For notes of joy can pierce the waves, 
That drown each sound of war and woe. 

Those who dwell beneath the sea 
Love the sons of Thule well ; 

Thus, to aid your mirth, bring we 

Dance, and song, and sounding shell. 

Children of dark Thule, know, 

Those who dwell by haaf and voe, 

Where your daring shallops row. 

Come to share the festal show. 

The final chorus was borne by the whole voices, excepting those 
carrying the conch-sheUs, who had been trained to blow them in a 
sort of rude accompaniment, which had a good effect. The poetry, 
as well as the performance of the masquers, received great applause 
from all who pretended to be judges of such matters ; but above 
all, from Triptolemus Yellowley, who, his ear having caught the 
agricultural sounds of plough and furrow, and his brain being so 
well drenched that it could only construe the words in their most 
literal acceptation, declared roundly, and called Mordaunt to bear 
witness, that, though it was a shame to waste so much good lint as 
went to form the Tritons beards and periwigs, the song contained 
the only words of common sense which he had heard all that long 

But Mordaunt had no time to answer the appeal, being engaged 
in attending with the utmost vigilance to the motions of one of the 
female masquers, who had given him a private signal as they 
entered, which induced him, though uncertain who she might prove 
to be, to expect some communication from her of importance. The 
siren who had so boldly touched his arm, and had accompanied 
the gesture with an expression of eye which bespoke his attention, 
was disguised with a good deal more care than her sister-masquers, 
her mantle being loose, and wide enough to conceal her shape 
completely, and her face hidden beneath a silk masque. He ob- 
served that she gradually detached herself from the rest of the 
masquers, and at length placed herself, as if for the advantage of 
the air, near the door of a chamber which remained open, looked 
earnestly at him again, and then taking an opportunity, when the 
attention of the company was fixed upon the rest of her party, she 
left the apartment. 

Mordaunt did not hesitate instantly to follow his mysterious 
guide, for such we may term the masquer, as she paused to let him 
see the direction she was about to take, and then walked swiftly 
towards the shore of thfe voe, or salt-water lake, now lying full 
before them, its small summer-waves glistening and rippling under 



the influence of a broad moonlight, which, added to the strong 
twilight of those regions during the summer solstice, left no reason 
to regret the absence of the sun, the path of whose setting was still 
visible on the waves of the west, while the horizon on the east side 
was already beginning to glimmer with the lights of dawn. 

Mordaunt had therefore no difficulty in keeping sight of his 
disguised guide, as she tripped it over height and hollow to the sea- 
side, and, winding among the rocks, led the way to the spot where 
his own labours, during the time of his former intimacy at Burgh- 
Westra, had constructed a sheltered and solitary seat, where the 
daughters of Magnus were accustomed to spend, when the weather 
was suitable, a good deal of their time. Here, then, was to be the 
place of explanation ; for the masquer stopped, and, after a 
moment's hesitation, sat down on the rustic settle. But from the 
lips of whom was he to receive it ? Noma had first occurred to 
him ; but her tall figure and slow majestic step were entirely 
different from the size and gait of the more fairy-formed siren, who 
had preceded him with as light a trip as if she had been a real 
Nereid, who, having remained too late upon the shore, was, under 
the dread of Amphitrite's displeasure, hastening to regain her native 
element. Since it was not Noma, it could be only, he thought, 
Brenda, who thus singled him out ; and when she had seated her- 
self upon the bench, and taken the mask from her face, Brenda it 
accordingly proved to be. Mordaunt had certainly done nothing 
to make him dread her presence ; and yet, such is the influence of 
bashfulness over the ingenuous youth of both sexes, that he expe- 
rienced all the embarrassment of one who finds himself unexpect- 
edly placed before a person who is justly offended with him. 
Brenda felt no less embarrassment ; but as she had sought this 
interview, and was sensible it must be a brief one, she was 
compelled, in spite of herself, to begin the conversation. 

" Mordaunt," she said, with a hesitating voice ; then correcting 
herself, she proceeded — " You must be suprised, Mr. Mertoun, that 
I should have taken this uncommon freedom." 

" It was not till this morning, Brenda," replied Mordaunt, " that 
any mark of friendship or intimacy from you or from your sister 
could have surprised me. I am far more astonished that you 
should shun me without reason for so many hours, than that you 
should now allow me an interview. In the name of Heaven, 
Brenda, in what have I offended you ? or why are we on these 
unusual terms ? " 

" May it not be enough to say," replied Brenda, looking down- 
ward, " that it is my father's pleasure ? " 
■" No, it is not enough," returned Mertoun. ; " Your father cannot 


have so suddenly altered his whole thoughts of me, and his whole 
actions towards me, without acting under the influence of some 
strong delusion. I ask you but to explain of what nature it is ; for 
I will be contented to be lower in your esteem than the meanest 
hind in these islands, if I cannot show that his change of opinion 
is only grounded upon some infamous deception, or some extra- 
ordinary mistake." 

" It may be so," said Brenda — " I hope it is so — that I do hope 
it is so, my desire to see you thus in private may well prove to you. 
But it is difficult — in short, it is impossible for me to explain to you 
the cause of my father's resentment. Noma has spoken with him 
concerning it boldly, and I fear they parted in displeasure ; and 
you well know no light matter could cause that." 

" I have observed," said Mordaunt, " that your father is most 
attentive to Noma's counsel, and more complaisant to her pecu- 
liarities than to those of others— this I have observed, though he is 
no willing believer in the supernatural qualities to which she lays 

" They are related distantly," answered Brenda, " and were 
friends in youth — nay, as I have heard, it was once supposed they 
would have been married ; but Noma's peculiarities showed them- 
selves immediately on her father's death, and there was an end of 
that matter, if ever there was any thing in it. But it is certain my 
father regards her with much interest ; and it is, I fear, a sign how 
deeply his prejudices respecting you must be rooted, since they 
have in some degree quarrelled on your account." 

" Now, blessings upon you, Brenda, that you have called them 
prejudices," said Mertoun, warmly and hastily — " a thousand bless- 
ings on you ! You were ever gentle-hearted — you could not have 
maintained even the show of unkindness long." 

" It was indeed but a show," said Brenda, softening gradually 
into the familiar tone in which they had conversed from infancy ; 
" I could never think, Mordaunt, — never, that is, seriously believe, 
that you could say aught unkind of Minna or of me." 

" And who dares to say I have ? " said Mordaunt, giving way to 
the natural impetuosity of his disposition — " Who dares to say that 
I have, and ventures at the same time to hope that I will suffer 
his tongue to remain in safety betwixt his jaws ? By Saint 
Magnus the Martyr, I will feed the hawks with it ! " 

" Nay, now," said Brenda, " your anger only terrifies me, and 
will force me to leave you." 

" Leave me," said he, " without teUing me either the calumny, or 
the name of the villainous calumniator ! " 

"O, there are more than one," answered Brenda, '-that have 


possessed my father with an opinion — which I cannot myself tell 
you — but there are more than one who say " 

" Were they hundreds, Brenda, I will do no less to them than I 
have said — Sacred Martyr ! — to accuse me of speaking unkindly 
of those whom I most respected and valued under Heaven — I will 
back to the apartment this instant, and your father shall do me 
right before all the world." 

" Do not go, for the love of Heaven ! " said Brenda ; " do not 
go, as you would not render me the most unhappy wretch in exis- 
tence ! " 

" Tell me then, at least, if I guess aright," said Mordaunt, 
" when I name this Cleveland for one of those who have slandered 

" No, no," said Brenda, vehemently, " you run from one error 
into another more dangerous. You say you are my friend : — I am 
willing to be yours : — ^be but still for a moment, and hear what I 
have to say ; — our interview has lasted but too long already, and 
every additional moment brings additional danger with it." 

" Tell me, then," said Mertoun, much softened by the poor girl's 
extreme apprehension and distress, " what it is that you require of 
me ; and believe me, it is impossible for you to ask aught that I 
wiU not do my very uttermost to comply with." 

" Well, then— this Captain," said Brenda, " this Cleveland " 

" I knew it, by Heaven ! " said Mordaunt ; " my mind assured 
me that that fellow was, in one way or other, at the bottom of all 
this mischief and misunderstanding ! " 

" If you cannot be silent, and patient, for an instant," replied 
Brenda, " I must instantly quit you : what I meant to say had no 
relation to you, but to another, — in one word, to my sister Minna. 
I have nothing to say concerning her dislike to you, but an anxious 
tale to tell concerning his attention to her." 

" It is obvious, striking, and marked," said Mordaunt; "and, 
unless my eyes deceive me, it is received as welcome, if, indeed, it 
is not returned." 

" That is the very cause of ijiy fear," said Brenda. " I, too, was 
struck with the external appearance, frank manners, and romantic 
conversation of this man." 

" His appearance ! " said Mordaunt ; " he is stout and well-fea- 
tured enough, to be sure ; but, as old Sinclair of Quendale said to 
the Spanish admiral, ' Farcie on his face ! I have seen many a 
fairer hang on the Borough-moor.' — From his manners, he might 
be captain of a privateer ; and by his conversation, the trumpeter 
to his own puppetshow ; for he speaks of little else than his own 



"You are mistaken," answered Brenda ; "he speaks but too 
well on all that he has seen and learned ; besides, he has really 
been in many distant countries, and in many gallant actions, and 
he can tell them with as much spirit as modesty. You would think 
you saw the flash and heard the report of the guns. And he has 
other tones of talking too— about the delightful trees and fruits of 
distant climates ; and how the people wear no dress, through the 
whole year, half so warm as our summer gowns, and, indeed, put 
on little except cambric and muslin." 

" Upon my word, Brenda, he does seem to understand' the busi- 
ness of amusing young ladies," replied Mordaunt. 

" He does, indeed," said Brenda, with great simplicity. " I 
assure you that, at first, I liked him better than Minna did ; and 
yet, though she is so much cleverer than I am, I know more of the 
world than she does ; for I have seen more, of cities, having been 
once at Kirkwall ; besides that I was thrice at Lerwick, when the 
Dutch ships were there, and so I should not be very easily deceived 
in people." 

" And pray, Brenda," said Mertoun, " what was it that made you 
think less favourably of this youn^ fellow, who seems to be so 
captivating ? " ' 

" Why," said Brenda, after a moment's reflection, " at first he 
was much livelier ; and the stories he told were not quite so melan- 
choly, or so terrible ; and he laughed and danced more." 

"And, perhaps, at that time, danced pftener with Brenda than 
with her sister ?" added Mordaunt. 

" No — I am not sure of that," said Brenda ; " and yet, to speak 
plain, I could have no suspicion of him at all while he was attend^ 
ing quite equally to us both ; for you know that then he could have 
been no more to us than yourself, Mordaunt- Mertoun, or young 
Swaraster, or any other young man in the islands." 

" But, why then," said Mordaunt, " should you not see him, 
with patience, become acquainted with your sister .■' — He is 
wealthy, or seems to be so at least. You say he is accomplished 
and pleasant ; — what else would you desire in a lover for Minna? " 
" Mordaunt, you forget who we are," said the maiden, assuming 
an air of consequence, which sat as gracefully upon her simplicity, 
as did the different tone in which she had spoken hitherto. " This 
is a little world of ours, this Zetland, inferior, perhaps, in soil and 
climate to other parts of the earth, at least so strangers say ; but it 
is our own little world, and we, the daughters of Magnus Troil, hold 
a first rank in it. It would, I think, little become us, who are 
descended from Sea-kings and Jarls, to throw ourselves away upon 
a stranger, who comes to our coast, like the eider-duck in spring, 


from we know not whence, and may leave it in autumn, to go we 
know not where." 

" And who may yet entice a ZetlancJ golden-eye to accompany 
his migration," said Mertoun. 

" I will hear nothing light on such a subject," replied Brenda, 
indignantly ; " Minna, like myself, is the daughter of Magnus 
Troil, the friend of strangers, but the Father of Hialtland. He 
gives them the hospitality they need ; but let not the proudest of 
them think that they can, at their pleasure, ally with his house." 

She said this in a tone of considerable warmth, which she 
instantly softened, as she added, " No, Mordaunt, do not suppose 
'that Minna Troil is capable of so far forgetting what she owes to 
her father and her father's blood, as to thinlc of marrying this 
Cleveland ; but she may lend an ear to him so long as to destroy 
her future happiness. She has that sort of mind, into which some 
feelings sink deeply ; — you remember how Ulla Storlson used to 
go, day by day, to the top of Vossdale-head, to look for her lover's 
ship that was never to return ? When I think of her slow step, 
her pale cheek, her eye, that grew dimmer and dimmer, like the 
lamp that is half extinguished for lack of oil, — when I remember 
the fluttered look, of something like hope, with which she ascended 
the cliff at morning, and the deep dead despair which sat on her 
forehead when she returned, — when I think on all this, can you 
wonder that I fear for Minna, whose heart is formed to entertain, 
with such deep-rooted fidelity, any affection that may be implanted 
in it.'" 

" I do not wonder," said Mordaunt, eagerly sympathizing with 
the poor girl ; for, besides the tremulous expression of her voice, 
the light could almost show him the tear which trembled in her 
eye, as she drew the picture to which her fancy had assimilated 
her sister, — " I do not wonder that you should feel and fear what- 
ever the purest affection can dictate ; and if you can but point out 
to me in what I can serve your sisterly love, you shall find me as 
ready to venture my life, if necessary, as I have been to go out on 
the crag to get you the eggs of the guillemot ; and, believe me, 
that whatever has been told to your father or yourself, of my enter- 
taining the slightest thoughts of disrespect or unkindness, is as 
false as a fiend could devise." 

" I believe it," said Brenda, giving him her hand ; " I believe it, 
and my bosom is lighter, now I have renewed my confidence in sO 
old a friend. How you can aid us, I know not ; but it was by the 
advice, I may say by the commands, of Noma, that I have ven- 
tured to make this communication ; and I almost wonder, ' she 
added, as she looted around her, " that I have had courage to carry 

M a, 


me through it. At present you know all that I can tell you of the 
risk in which my sister stands. Look after this Cleveland— beware 
how you quarrel with him, since you must so surely come by the 
worst with an experienced soldier." 

" I do not exactly understand," said the youth, " how that should 
so surely be. This I know, that with the good limbs and good 
heart that God hath given me, ay, and with a good cause to boot 
— I am little afraid of any quarrel which Cleveland can fix upon 

■' Then, if not for your own sake, for Minna's sake," said Brenda 
— "for my father's— for mine— for all our sakes, avoid any strife 
with him, but be contented to watch him, and, if possible, to dis- 
cover who he is, and what are his intentions towards us. He has 
talked of going to Orkney, to enquire after the consort with whom 
he sailed ; but day after day, and week after week passes, and he 
goes not ; and while he keeps my father company over the bottle, 
and tells Minna romantic stories of foreign people, and distaht 
wars, in wild and unknown regions, the time glides on, and the 
stranger, of whom we know nothing except that he is one, becomes 
gradually closer and more inseparably intimate in our society.— 
And now, farewell. Noma hopes to make your peace with my 
father, and entreats you not to leave Burgh-Westra to-morrow, 
however cold he and my sister may appear towards you. I too," 
she said, stretching her hand towards him, " must wear a face of 
cold friendship as towards an unwelcome visitor, but at heart we 
are still Brenda and Moraaunt. And now separate quickly, for we 
must not be seen together." 

She stretched her hand to him, but withdrew it in some slight 
confusion, laughing and blushing, when, by a natural impulse, he 
was about to press it to his lips. He endeavoured for a moment 
to detain her, for the interview had for him a degree of fascination, 
which, as often as he had before been alone with Brenda, he had 
never experienced. But she extricated herself from him, and 
again signing an adieu, and pointing out to him a path different 
from that which she was herself about to take, tripped towards the 
house, and was soon hidden from his view by the acclivity. 

Mordaunt stood gazing after her in a state of mind, to which, as 
yet, he had been a stranger. The dubious neutral ground between 
love and friendship may be long and safely trodden, until he who 
stands upon it is suddenly called upon to recognize the authority of 
the one or the other power ; and then it most frequently happens, 
that the party who for years supposed himself only a friend, finds 
himself at once transformed into a lover. That such a change in 
Mordaunt's feelings should take place from this date, although he 


himself was unable exactly to distinguish its nature, was to be 
expected. He found himself at once received, with the most 
unsuspicious frankness, into the confidence of a beautiful and 
fascinating young woman, by whom he had, so short a time before, 
imagined himself despised and disliked ; and, if any thing could 
make a change, in itself so surprising and so pleasing, yet more 
intoxicating, it was the guileless and open-hearted simplicity of 
Brenda, that cast an enchantment over every thing which she did or 
said. The, scene, too, might have had its effect, though there was 
little occasion for its aid. But a fair face looks yet fairer under the 
light of the moon, and a sweet voice sounds yet sweeter among the 
whispering sounds of a summer night. Mordaunt, therefore, who 
had by this time returned to the house, was disposed to listen with 
unusual patience and complacency to the enthusiastic declamation 
pronounced upon moonlight by Claud Halcro, whose ecstasies had 
been awakened on the subject by a short turn in the open air, 
undertaken to qualify the vapours of the good liquoi^ which he had 
not spared during the festival. 

" The sun, my boy," he said, " is every wretched labourer's day- 
lantern — it comes glaring yonder, out of the east, to summon up 
a whole world to labour and to misery ; whereas the merry moon 
lights all of us to mirth and to love." 

" And to madness, or she is much belied," said Mordaunt, by 
way of saying something. 

" Let it be so," answered Halcro, " so she does not turn us 
melancholy-mad. — My dear young friend, the folks of this pains- 
taking world are far too anxious about possessing all their wits, or 
having them, as they say, about them. At least I know I have 
been often called half-witted, and I am sure I have gone through 
the world as well as if I had double the quantity. But stop — ■ 
where was I ? O, touching and concerning the moon — why, man, 
she is the very soul of love and poetry. I question if there was 
ever a true lover in existence who had not got at least as far as ' O 
thou,' in a sonnet in her praise.'' 

" The moon," said the factor, who was now beginning to speak 
very thick, " ripens corn, at least the old folk said so — and she fills 
nuts also, whilk is of less matter — sparge mices,fitieri." 

" A fine, a fine," said the Udaller, who was now in his altitudes, 
" the factor speaks Greek — by the bones of my holy namesake. 
Saint Magnus, he shall drink off the yawl full of punch, unless he 
gives us a song on the spot ! " 

" Too much water drowned the miller,'' answered Tfiptolemus. 
" My brain has more need of draining than of being drenched 
with more liquor." 


" Sing, then," said the despotic landlord, "for no one shall speak 
any other language here, save honest Norse, jolly Dutch, or 
Danske, or broad Scots, at the least of it. So, Eric Scambester, 
produce the yawl, and fill it to the brim, as a charge for demur- 

Ere the vessel could reach the agriculturist, he, seeing it under 
way, and steering towards him by short tacks, (for Scambester 
himself was by this time not over steady in his course,) made a 
desperate effort, and began to sing, or rather to croak forth, a 
Yorkshire harvest-home ballad, which his father used to sing when 
he was a little mellow, and which went to the tune of " Hey Dob- 
bin, away with the waggon." The rueful aspect of the singer, and 
the desperately discordant tones of his voice, formed so delightful 
a contrast with the jollity of the words and tune, that honest Trip- 
tolemus afforded the same sort of amusement which a reveller 
might give, bv appearing on a festival-day in the holyday-coat of 
his grandfather. The jest concluded the evening, for even the 
mighty and strong-headed Magnus himself had confessed the in- 
fluence of the sleepy god. The guests went off as they best might, 
each to his separate crib and resting place, and in a short time the 
mansion, which was" of late so noisy, was hushed into perfect 


They man their boats, and all the young men arm 
With whatsoever might the monsters harm ; 
Pikes, halberds, spits, and darts, that wound afar, 
The tools or peace, and implements of war. 
Now was the time for vigorous lads to show 
What love or honour could incite them to ; — 
A goodly theatre, where rocks are round 
With reverend age and lovely lasses crown'd. 

Battle of the Slimmer Islanas. 

The morning which succeeds such a feast as that of Magnus 
Troil, usually lacks a little of the zest which seasoned the revels of 
the preceding day, as the fashionable reader may have obser/ed at 
a public breakfast during the race-week in a country town ; for, in 
what is called the best society, these lingering moments are usually 
spent by the company, each apart in their own dressing-rooms. At 
Burgh- Westra, it will readily be believed, no such space for retire- 


ment was afiforded ; and the lasses, with their paler cheeks, the 
elder dames, with many a wink and yawn, were compelled to meet 
with their male companions (headaches and all) just three hours 
after they had parted from each other. 

Eric .Scambester had done all that man could do to supply the 
full means of diverting the ennui of the morning meal. The board 
groaned with rounds of hung beef, made after the fashion of Zet- 
land — with pasties — with baked meats — ^with fish, dressed and 
cured in every possible manner ; nay, with the foreign delicacies of 
tea, coffee, and chocolate ; for, as we have already had occasion to 
remark, the situation of these islands made them early acquainted 
with various articles of foreign luxury, which were, as yet, but 
little known in Scotland, where, at a much later period than that 
we write of, one pound of green tea was dressed like cabbage, and 
another converted into a vegetable sauce for salt beef, by the 
ignorance of the good housewives to whom they had been sent as 
rare presents. 

Besides these preparations, the table exhibited vsi'hatever mighty 
potions are resorted to by bans vivans, under the facetious name of 
a " hair of the dog that bit you." There was the potent Irish Us- 
quebaugh — right Nantz — genuine Schiedamm — AquavitcE from 
Caithness — and Golden Wasser from Hamburgh ; there was rum 
of formidable antiquity, and cordials from the Leeward Islands. 
After these details, it were needless to mention the stout home- 
brewed ale — the German mum, and Schwartz beef — and still more 
would it be beneath our dignity to dwell upon the innumerable sorts 
of pottage and flummery, together with the bland, and various pre- 
parations of milk, for those who preferred thinner potations. 

No wonder that the sight of so much good cheer awakened the 
appetite and raised the spirits of the fatigued revellers. The young 
men began immediately to seek out their partners of the preceding 
evening, and to renew the small talk which had driven the night so 
merrily away ; while Magnus, with his stout old Norse kindred, 
encouraged, by precept and example, those of elder days and graver 
mood, to a substantial flirtation with the good things before them. 
Still, however, there was a long period to be filled up before dinner ; 
for the most protracted breakfast cannot well last above an hour ; 
and it was to be feared that Claud Halcro meditated the occuptaion 
of this vacant morning with a formidable recitation of his own verses, 
besides telling, at its full length, the whole history of his introduc- 
tion to glorious John Dryden. But fortune relieved the guests of 
Burgh- Westra from this threatened infliction, by sending them 
means of amusement peculiarly suited to their taste and habits. 

Most of the guests were using their toothpicks, some were 


beginning to talk of what was to be done next, when; with haste in 
his step, fire in his eye, and a harpoon in his hand, Eric Scambes- 
ter came to announce to the company, that there was a whale on 
shore, or nearly so, at the throat of the voe ! Then you might have 
seen such a joyous, boisterous, and universal bustle, as only the 
love of sport, so deeply implanted in our nature, can possibly in- 
spire. A set of country squires, about to beat for the first wood- 
cocks of the season, were a comparison as petty, in respect to the 
glee, as in regard to the importance of the object ; the battue, 
upon a strong cover in Ettrick Forest, for the destmction of the 
foxes ; the insurrection of the sportsmen of the Lennox, when one 
of the Duke's deer gets out from Inch-Mirran ; nay, the joyous 
rally of the fox-chase itself, with all its blithe accompaniments of 
hound and horn, fall infinitely short of the animation with which 
the gallant sons of Thule set ofif to encounter the monster, whom 
the sea had sent for their amusement at so opportune a con- 

The multifarious stores of Burgh- Westra were rummaged hastily 
for all sorts of arms, which could be used on such an occasion. 
Harpoons, swords, pikes, and halberds, fell to the lot of some ; 
others contented themselves with hay-forks, spits, and whatever 
else could be found, that was at once long and sharp. Thus hastily 
equipped, one division, under the command of Captain Cleveland, 
hastened to man the boats which lay in the little haven, while the 
rest of the party hurried by land to the scene of action. 

Poor Triptolemus was interrupted in a plan, which he, too, had 
formed against the patience of the Zetlanders, and which was to 
have consisted in a lecture upon the agriculture, and the capabilities 
of the country, by this sudden hubbub, which put an end at once to 
Halcro's poetry, and to his no less formidable prose. It may be 
easily imagined, that he took very little interest in the sport which 
was so suddenly substituted for his lucubrations, and he would not 
even have deigned to have looked upon the active scene which was 
about to take place, had he not been stimulated thereunto by the 
exhortations of IVEistress Baby. " Pit yoursell forward, man," said 
that provident person, " pit yoursell forward — wha kens whare a 
blessing may light ? — they say that a' men share and share equals- 
aquals in the creature's ulzie, and a pint o't wad be worth siller, to 
light the cruise in the lang dark nights that they speak of. Pit 
yoursell forward, man — there's a graip to ye.— faint heart never wan 
fair lady — wha kens but what, when it's fresh, it may eat weel 
eneugh, and spare butter ? " 

What zeal was added to Triptolemus's motions, by the prospect 
of eating fresh train-oil, instead of butter, we know not ; but, as 


better might not be, he brandished the rural implement (a stable- 
fork) with which he was armed, and went down to wage battle with 
the whale. 

The situation in which the enemy's ill fate had placed him, was 
particularly favourable to the enterprise of the islanders. A tide of 
unusual height had carried the animal over a large bar of sand, 
into the voe or creek in which he was now lying. So soon as he 
found the water ebbing, he became sensible of his danger, and had 
made desperate efforts to get over the shallow water, where the 
waves broke on the bar ; but hitherto he had rather injured than 
mended his condition, having got himself partly aground, and 
lying therefor^ particularly exposed to the meditated attack. At 
this moment the enemy came down upon him. The front rank 
consisted of the young and hardy, armed in the miscellaneous 
manner we have described ; while, to witness and animate their 
efforts, the young women, and the elderly persons of both sexes, 
took their place among the rocks, which overhung the scene of 

As the boats had to double a little headland, ere they opened the 
mouth of the voe, those who came by land to the shores of the inlet, 
had time to make the necessary reconnaissances upon the force and 
situation of the enemy, on whom they were about to commence ^ 
simultaneous attack by land and sea. 

This duty, the stout-hearted and experienced general, for so the 
Udaller might be termed, would entrust to no eyes but his own ; 
and, indeed, his external appearance, and his sage conduct, rendered 
him alike qualified for the command which he enjoyed. His gold- 
laced hat was exchanged for a bearskin cap, his suit of blue broad- 
cloth, with its scarlet lining, and loops, and frogs of bullion, had 
given place to a red flannel jacket, with buttons of black horn, over 
which he wore a seal-skin shirt curiously seamed and plaited on the 
bosom, such as are used by the Esquimaux, and sometimes by the 
Greenland whale-fishers. Sea-boots of a formidable size completed 
his dress, and in his hand he held a large whaling-knife, which he 
brandished, as if impatient to employ it in the operation of flinch- 
ing the huge animal which lay before them, — that is, the act of 
separating its flesh from its bones. Upon closer examination, 
howevei-, he was obliged to confess, that the sport to which he had 
conducted his friends, however much it corresponded with the 
magnificent scale of his hospitality, was likely to be attended with 
its own peculiar dangers and difficulties. 

The animal, upwards of sixty feet in length, was lying perfectly 
still, in a deep part of the voe into which it had weltered, and 
where it seemed to await the return of tide, of which it was 


probably assured by instinct. A council of experienced harpooners 
was instantly called, and it was agreed that an effort should~be 
made to noose the tail of this torpid leviathan, by casting a cable 
around it, to be made fast by anchors to the shore, and thus to 
secure against his escape, in case the tide should make before they 
were able to dispatch him. Three boats were destined to this 
delicate piece of service, one of which the Udaller himself proposed 
to command, while Cleveland and Mertoun were to direct the two 
others. This being decided, they sat down on the strand, waiting 
with impatience until the naval part of the force should arrive in 
the voe. It was during this interval, that Triptolemus Yellbwley, 
after measuring with his eyes the extraordinary size of the whale, 
observed, that in his poor mind, " A wain with six owsen, or with 
sixty owsen either, if they were the oWsen of the country, could not 
drag siccan a huge creature from the water, where it was now 
lying, to the sea-beach." 

Trifling as this remark may seem to the reader, it was connected 
with a subject which always fired the blood of the old Udaller, who, 
glancing upon Triptolemus a quick and stern look, asked him what 
the devil it signified,- supposing a hundred oxen could not drag the 
whale upon the beach ? Mr. Yellowley, though not much liking the 
tone with which the question was put, felt that his dignity and his 
profit compelled him to answer as follows : — " Nay, sir-^you know 
yoursell, Master Magnus Troil, and every one knows that knows 
any thing, that whales of siccan size as may not be masterfully 
dragged on shore by the instrumentality of one wain with six owsen, 
are the right and property of the Admiral, who is at this time the 
same noble lord who is, moreover, Chamberlain of these isles." 

" And I tell you, Mr. Triptolemus Yellowley," said the Udaller, 
" as I would tell your master if he were here, that every man who 
risks his life to bring that fish ashore, shall have an equal share and 
partition, according to our ancient and loveable Norse custom and 
wont ; nay, if there is so much as a woman looking on, that will 
biit touch the cable, she will be partner with us ; ay, and more,than 
all that, if she will but say there is a reason for it, we will assign a 
portion to the babe that is unborn." 

The strict principle of equity, which dictated this last arrange- 
ment, occasioned laughter among the men, and some slight con- 
fusion among the women. The factor, however, thought it shame 
to be so easily daunted. " Suum cuiqiic tribuito," said he ; "I 
will stand for my lord's right and my own." 

" Will you ? " rephed Magnus ; " then, by the Martyr's bones, 
you shall have no law of partition but that of God and Saint Olave, 
which we had before either factor, or treasurer, or chamberlain 


were heard of !— All shall share that lend a hand, and never a one 
else. So you, Master Factor, shall be busy as well as other folk, 
and think yourself lucky to share hke other folk. Jump into that 
boat," (for the boats had by this time pulled round the headland,) 
" and you, my lads, make way for the factor in the stern-sheets — he 
shall be the first man this blessed day that shall strike the fish." 

The loud authorative voice, and the habit of absolute command 
inferred in the Udaller's whole manner, together with the conscious 
want of favourers and backers amongst the rest of the company, 
rendered it difficult for Triptolemus to evade compliance, although 
he was thus about to be placed in a situation equally novel and 
perilous. He was still, however, hesitating, and attempting an ex- 
planation, with a voice in which aijger was qualified by fear, and 
both thinly disguised under an attempt to be jocular, and to re- 
present the whole as a jest, when he heard the voice of Baby 
maundering in his ear, — " Wad he lose his share of the ulzie, and 
the lang Zetland winter coming on, when the lightest day in 
December is not so clear as a moonless night in the Mearns ? " 

This domestic instigation, in addition to those of fear of the 
Udaller, and shame to seem less courageous than others, so in- 
flamed the agriculturist's spirits, that he shook his graip aloft, and 
entered the boat with the air of Neptune himself, carrying on high 
his trident. 

The three boats destined for this perilous service, now approached 
the dark mass, which lay like an islet in the deepest part of the voe, 
and suffered them to approach without showing any sign of anima- 
tion. Silently, and with such precaution as the extreme delicacy 
of the operation required, the intrepid adventurers, after the failure 
of their first attempt, and the expenditure of considerable time, 
succeeded in casting a cable around the body of the torpid monster, 
and in carrying the ends of it ashore, when an hundred_hands were 
instantly employed in securing them. But ere this was accom- 
plished, the tide began to make fast, and the Udaller informed his 
assistants, that either the fish must be killed, or at least greatly 
wounded, ere the depth of water on the bar was sufficient to float 
him ; or that he was not unlikely to escape from their joint 

"Wherefore,"' said he, "we must set to work, and the factor 
shall have the honour to make the first throw." 

The valiant Triptolemus caught the word ; and it is necessary to 
say that the patience of the whale, in suffering himself to be noosed 
without resistance, had abated his terrors, and very much lowered 
the creature in his opinion. He protested the fish had no more 
wit, and scarcely more activity, than a black snail ; and, influenced 


by this undue contempt of the adversary, he waited neither for a 
further signal, nor a better weapon, nor a more suitable position, 
but, rising in his energy, hurled his graip with all his force against 
the unfortunate monster. The boats had not yet retreated from 
him to the distance necessary to ensure safety, when this injudicious 
commencement of the war took place. 

Magnus Troil, who had only jested with the factor, and had 
reserved the launching the first spear against the whale to some 
much more skilful hand, had just time to exclaim, " Mind your- 
selves, lads, or we are all swamped ! " when the monster, roused at 
once from inactivity by the blow of the factor's missile, blew, with 
a noise resembhng the explosion of a steam-engine, a huge shower 
of water into the air, and at the same time began to lash the waves 
with his tail in every direction. The boat in which Magnus pre- 
sided received the shower of brine which the animal spouted aloft; 
and the adventurous Triptolemus, who had a full share of the im- 
mersion, was so much astonished and terrified by the consequences 
of his own valorous deed, that he tumbled backwards amongst the 
feet of the people, who, too busy to attend to him, were actively 
engaged in getting the boat into shoal water, out of the whale's 
reach. Here he lay for some minutes, trampled on by the feet of 
the boatmen, until they lay on their oars to bale, when the Udaller 
ordered them to pull to shore, and land this spare hand, who had 
commenced the fishing so inauspiciously. 

While this was doing, the other boats had also pulled off to safei 
distance, and now, from these as well as from the shore, the unfor 
tunate native of the deep was overwhelmed by all kinds of mis- 
siles, — harpoons and spears flew against him on all sides — guns 
were fired, and each various means of annoyance plied which could 
excite him to exhaust his strength in useless rage. When the 
animal found that he was locked in by shallows on all sides, and 
became sensible, at the same time, of the strain of the cable on his 
body, the convulsive efforts which he made to escape, accompanied 
with sounds resembling deep and loud groans, would have moved 
the compassion of all but a practised whale-fisher. The repeated 
showers which he spouted into the air began now to be mingled 
with blood, and the waves which surrounded him assumed the 
same crimson appearance. Meantime the attempts of the assail- 
ants were redoubled; but Mordaunt Mertoun and Cleveland, in 
particular, exerted themselves to the uttermost, contending who 
should display most courage in approaching the monster, so 
tremendous in its agonies, and should inflict the most deep and 
deadly v/ounds upon its huge bulk. 

The contest seemed at last pretty well over ; for although the 



animal continued from time to time to make frantic exertions 
for liberty, yet its strength appeared so much exhausted, that, 
even with the assistance of the tide, which had now risen con- 
siderably, it was thought it could scarcely extricate itself. 

Magnus gave the signal to venture nearer to the whale, calling 
out at the same time, " Close in, lads, he is not half so mad 
now — The Factor may look for a winter's oil for the two lamps 
at Harfra — Pull close in, lads." 

Ere his orders could be obeyed, the other two boats had anti- 
cipated his purpose ; and Mordaunt Mertoun, eager to distinguish 
himself above Cleveland, had, with the whole strength he pos- 
sessed, plunged a half-pike into the body of the animal. But 
the leviathan, like a nation whose resources appear totally ex- 
hausted by previous losses and calamities, collected his whole 
remaining force for an effort, which proved at once desperate 
and successful. The wound, last received, had probably reached 
through his external defences of blubber, and attained some very 
sensitive part of the system ; for he roared aloud, as he sent to 
the s'Ky a mingled sheet of brine and blood, and snapping the 
strong cable like a twig, overset Mertoun's boat with a blow of 
his tail, shot himself, by a mighty effort, over the bar, upon 
which the tide had now risen considerably, and made out to sea, 
carrying with him a whole grove of the implements which had 
been planted in his body, and leaving behind him, on the waters, 
a dark red trace of his course. 

" There goes to sea your cruise of oil. Master Yellowley," said 
Magnus, "and you must consume mutton suet, or go to bed in 
the dark." 

" Operam et oleitm perdidi" muttered Triptolemus ; " but if 
they catch me whale-fishing again, I will consent that the fish 
shall swallow me as he did Jonah." 

"But where is Mordaunt Mertoun all this while?" exclaimed 
Claud. Halcro ; and it was instantly perceived that the youth 
who had been stunned when his boat was stove, was unable to 
swim to shore as the other' sailors did, and now floated sense- 
less upon the waves. 

We have noticed the strange and inhuman prejudice, which 
rendered the Zetlanders of that period unwilling to assist those 
whom they saw in the act of drowning, though that is the 
calamity to which the islanders are most frequently exposed. 
Three men, however, soared above this superstition. The first 
was Claud Halcro, who threw himself from a small rock headlong 
into the waves, forgetting, as he himself afterwards stated, that 
he could not swim, and, if possessed of the harp of Arion, had 


no dolphins in attendance. The first plunge which the poet made 
in deep water, reminding him of these deficiencies, he was fain to 
cling to the rock from which he had dived, and was at length glad 
to regain the shore, at the expense of a ducking. 

Magnus Troil, whose honest heart forgot his late coolness 
towards Mordaunt, when he saw the youth's danger, would in- 
stantly have brought him more effectual aid, but Eric Scambestcr 
held him fast. 

" Hout, sir — hout," exclaimed that faithful attendant — " Captain 
Cleveland has a grip of Mr. Mordaunt — just let the twa strangers 
help ilk other, and stand by the upshot. The light of the country 
is not to be quenched for the like of them. Bide still, sir, I say — 
Bredness Voe is not a bowl of punch, that a man can be fished out 
of like a toast with a long spoon." 

This sage remonstrance would have been altogether lost upon 
Magnus, had he not observed that Cleveland had in fact jumped 
out of the boat, and swum to Mertoim's assistance, and was keeping 
him afloat till the boat came to the aid of both. As soon as the 
immediate danger, which called so loudly for assistance was thus 
ended, the honest Udaller's desire to render aid terminated also ; 
and recollecting the cause of offence which he had, or thought he 
had, against Mordaunt Mertoun, he shook off his butler's hold, 
and turning round scornfully from the beach, called Eric an 
old fool for supposing that he cared whether the young fellow sank 
or swam. 

Still, however, amid his assumed indifference, Magnus could not 
help peeping over the heads of the circle, which, surrounding 
Mordaunt as soon as he was brought on shore, were charitably 
employed in endeavouring to recall him to life ; and he was not 
able to attain the appearance of absolute unconcern, until the 
young man sat up on the beach, and showed plainly that the 
accident had been attended with no material consequences. ■ It 
was then first that, cursing the assistants for not giving the lad 
a glass of brandy, he walked sullenly away, as if totally unconcerned 
in his fate. 

The women, always accurate in observing the tell-tale emotions 
of each other, failed not to remark, that when the sisters of Burgh- 
Westra saw Mordaunt immersed in the waves, Minna grew as pale 
as death, while Brenda uttered successive shrieks of terror. But 
though there were some nods, winks, and hints that auld acquaint- 
ance were not easily forgot, it was, on the whole, candidly ad- 
mitted, that less than such marks of interest could scarce have 
been expected, when they saw the companion of their early youth 
in the act of perishing before their eyes. 


Whatever interest Mordaunt's condition excited while it, seemed 
perilous, began to khate as he recovered himself; and when his 
senses were fully restored, only Claud Halcro, with two or three 
others, were standing by him. About ten paces off stood Cleve- 
land — his hair and clothes dropping water, and his features wearing 
so peculiar an expression, as immediately to arrest the attention of 
Mordaunt. There was a suppressed smile on his cheek, and a 
look of pride in his eye, that implied liberation from a painful 
restraint, an,d something resembling gratified scorn. Claud Halcro 
hastened to intimate to Mordaunt, that he owed his life to Cleve- 
land ; and the youth, rising from the ground, and losing all other 
feelings in those of gratitude, stepped forward with his hand 
stretched out, to offer his warmest thanks to his preserver. But he 
stopped short in surprise, as Cleveland, retreating a pace or two, 
folded his arms on his breast, and declined to accept his proffered 
hand. He drew back in turn, and gazed with astonishment at the 
ungracious manner, and almost insulting look, with which Cleve- 
land, who had formerly rather expressed a frank cordiality, or at 
least openness of bearing, now, after having thus rendered him a 
most important service, chose to receive his thanks. 

" It is enough," said Cleveland, observing his surprise, " and it is 
unnecessary to say more about it. I have paid back my debt, and 
we are now equal." 

" You are more than equal with me. Captain Cleveland," answered 
Mertoun, " because you endangered your life to do for me what I 
did for you without the slightest risk ; — besides," he added, trying 
to give the discourse a more pleasant turn, " I have your rifle-gun 
to boot." 

" Cowards only count danger for any point of the game," said 
Cleveland. " Danger has been my consort for life, and sailed with 
me on a thousand worse voyages ;^and for rifles, I have enough of 
my own, and you may see, when you will, which can use them 

There was something in the tone with which this was said, that 
struck Mordaunt strongly ; it was miching malicho, as Hamlet 
says, and meant mischief. Cleveland saw his surprise, came close 
up to him, and spoke in a low tone of voice : — " Hark ye, my young 
brother. There is a custom among us gentlemen of fortune, that 
when we follow the same chase, and take the wind out of each 
other's sails, we think sixty yards of the sea-beach, and a brace of 
rifles, are no bad way of making our odds even." 

" I do not understand you. Captain Cleveland," said Mordaunt. 

'" I do not suppose you do, — I did not suppose you would," said 
the Captain ; and, turning on his heel, with a smile that resembled 


a sneer, Mordaunt saw him mingle with the guests, 'and very soon 
beheld him at the side of Minna, who was talking to him with 
animated features, that seemed to thank him for his gallant and 
generous conduct. 

" If it were not for Brenda," thought Mordaunt, " I almost wish 
he had left me in the voe, for no one seems to care whether I am 
alive or dead. — Two rifles and sixty yards of sea-beach — is that 
what he points at ? — It may come, — but not on the day he has 
saved my life with risk of his own." 

While he was thus musing, Eric Scambester was whispering to 
Halcro, " If these two lads do not do each other a mischief, there is 
no faith in freits. Master Mordaunt saves Cleveland, — well. — 
Cleveland, in requital, has turned all the sunshine of Burgh- 
Westra to his own side of the house ; and think what it is to lose 
favour in such a house as this, where the punch-kettle is never 
allowed to cool ! Well, now that Cleveland in his turn has been 
such a fool as to fish Moi-daunt out of the voe, see if he does not 
give him sour siUocks for stock-fish." 

" Pshaw, pshaw !'" replied the poet, " that is all old women's 
fancies, my friend Eric ; for what says glorious Dryden — sainted 

' The yellow gall that in your bosom floats, 
Engenders all these Inelancholy thoughts.' " 

" Saint John, or Saint James either, may be mistaken in the 
matter," said Eric ; " for I think neither of them lived in Zetland. 
I only say, that if there is faith in old saws, these two lads will do 
each other a mischief; and if they do, I trust it will light on Mor- 
daunt Mertoun." 

" And why, Eric Scambester," said Halcro, hastily and angrily, 
" should you wish ill to that poor young man, that is worth fifty of 
the other ? " 

" Let every one roose the ford as he finds it," replied Eric ; 
" Master Mordaunt is all for wan water, like his old dog-fish of a 
father ; now Captain Cleveland, d'ye see, takes his glass, like an 
honest fellow and a gentleman." 

" Rightly reasoned, and in thine own division," said Halcro ; and 
breaking off their conversation, took his way back to Burgh- Wes- 
tra, to which the guests of Magnus were now returning, discussing 
as they went, with much animation, the various incidents of their 
attack upon the whale, and not a little scandalized that it should 
have baffled all- their exertions. 

" I hope Captain Donderdrecht of the Eintracht of Rotterdam 
will never hear of it," said Magnus ; " he would swear, donner and 
bhtzen, we were only fit to fish flounders." * 




THfi MftATie, t^^ 


And helter-skelter have I rode to thee. 
And tidings do I bring, and lucky joys, 
And golden times, and happy news of price. 
I Ancient Pistol. 

Fortune, who seems at times to bear a conscience, owed the 
hospitable Udaller some amends, and accordingly repaid to Burgh- 
Westra the disappointment occasioned by the unsuccessful whale- 
fishing, by sending thither, on the evening of the day in which that 
incident happened, no less a person than the jagger, or travelling 
merchant, as he styled himself, Bryce Snailsfoot, who arrived in 
great pomp, himself on one pony, and his pack of goods, swelled to 
nearly double its usual size, forming the burden of another, which 
was led by a bare-headed bare-legged boy. 

As Bryce announced himself the bearer of important news, he 
was introduced to the dining apartment, where (for that primitive 
age was no respecter of persons) he was permitted to sit down at a 
side-table, and amply supplied with provisions and good liquor ; 
while the attentive hospitality of Magnus permitted no questions to 
be put to him, until, his hunger and thirst appeased, he announced, 
with the sense of importance attached to distant travels, that he had 
just yesterday arrived at Lerwick from Kirkwall, the capital of 
Orkney, and would have been here yesterday, but it blew hard off 
the Fitful-head. 

" We had no wind here," said Magnus. 

" There is somebody has not been sleeping, then," said the 
pedlar, " and her name begins with N ; but Heaven is above 

" But the news from Orkney, Bryce, instead of croaking about a 
capful of wind?" 

" Such news," replied Bryce, " as has not been heard this thirty 
years — not since Cromwell's time." 

" There is not another Revolution, is there ? " said Halcfo ; " King 
James has not come back, as blithe as King Charlie did, has 
he ? " 

" It's news," replied the pedlar, " that are worth twenty kings, 
and kingdoms to boot of them ; for what good did the evolutions 
ever do us ; and I dare say we have seen a dozen, great and 

iyS The PIkATfi, 

"Are any Indiamen come north about?" said Magnus 

" Ye are nearer the mark, Fowd," said the jagger ; " but it is nae 
Indiaman, but a gallant armed vessel, chokeful of merchandise, 
that they part with so easy that a decent man like mysell can afford 
to give the country the best pennyworths you ever saw ; and that 
you will say, when I open that pack, for I count to carry it back 
another sort lighter than when I brought it here." 

" Ay, ay, Bryce," said the Udaller, " you must have had good 
bargains if you sell cheap ; but what ship was it ? " 

" Cannot justly say — I spoke to nobody but the captain, who was 
a discreet man ; but she had been down on the Spanish Main, for 
she has silks and satins, and tobacco, I warrant you, and wine, and 
no lack of sugar, and bonny-wallies baith of silver and gowd, and 
a bonnie dredging of gold dust into the bargain." 

" What like was she ? " said Cleveland, who seemed to give 
much attention. 

" A stout ship,'' said the itinerant merchant, " schooner-rigged, 
sails like a dolphin, they say, carries twelve guns, and is pierced for' 

" Did you hear the captain's name ? " said Cleveland, speaking 
rather lower than his usual tone. 

" I just ca'd him the Captain," replied Bryce Snailsfoot ; " for I 
fnake it a rule never to ask questions of them I deal with in the 
way of trade ; for there is many an honest captain, begging 
your pardon. Captain Cleveland, that does not care to have his 
name tacked to his title ; and as lang as we ken what bargains we 
are making, what signifies it wha we are making them wi', ye 
ken .? " 

" Bryce Snailsfoot is a cautious man," said the Udaller, laughing; 
" he knows a fool may ask more questions than a wise man cares 
to answer." 

" I have dealt with the fair traders in my day," replied Snails- 
foot, " and I ken nae use in blurting braid out with a man's name 
at every moment ; but I will uphold this gentleman to be a gallant 
commander — ay, and a kind one too ; for every one of his crew is 
as brave in apparel as himself nearly — the very foremast-men have 
their silken scarfs ; I have seen many a lady wear a warse, and 
think hersell nae sma' drink — and for siller buttons, and buckleSi 
and the lave of sic vanities, there is nae end of them." 

" Idiots ! " muttered Cleveland between his teeth ; and then 
added, " I suppose they are often ashore, to show all their bravery 
to the lasses of Kirkwall ? " 

" Ne'er a bit of that are they. The Captain will scarce let them' 


Stir ashore without the boatswain go in the boat — as rough a tar- 
paulin as ever swabb'd a deck — and you may as weel catch a cat 
without her claws, as him without his cutlass and his double brace 
of pistols about him ; every man stands as much in awe of him as 
of the commander himsell.'" 

" That must be Hawkins, or the devil," said Cleveland. 

" Aweel, Captain," replied the jagger, " be he the tanc or the 
tither, or a wee bit o' baith, mind it is you that give him these 
names, and not I." 

" Why, Captain Cleveland," said the Udaller, " this may prove 
the very consort you spoke of." 

" They must have had some good luck, then," said Cleveland, 
" to put them in better plight than when I left them. — Did they 
speak of having lost their consort, pedlar ? " 

" In troth did they," said Bryce ; " that is, they said something 
about a partner that had gone down to Davie Jones in these 

" And did you tell them what you knew of her ? " said the 

" And wha the deevil wad hae been the fule, then," said the 
pedlar, " that I suld say sae ? When' they kend what came of the 
ship, the next question wad have been about the cargo, — and ye 
wad not have had me bring down an armed vessel on the coast, to 
harrie the poor folk about a wheen rags of duds that the sea flung 
upon their shores ? " 

'■ Besides, what might have been found in your own pack, you 
scoundrel ! " said Magnus Troil ;■ an observation which produced a 
loud laugh. The Udaller could not help joining in the hilarity 
which applauded his jest ; but instantly composing his countenance, 
he said, in an unusually grave tone, " You may laugh, my friends ; 
but this is a matter which brings both a curse and a shame on the 
country ; and till we learn to regard the rights of them that suffer 
by the winds and waves, we shall deserve to be oppressed and hag- 
ridden, as we have been and are, by the superior strength of the 
strangers who rule us." 

The company hung their heads at the rebuke of Magnus Troil. 
Perhaps some, even of the better class, might be conscience-struck 
on their own account ; and all of them were sensible that the 
appetite for plunder, on the part of the tenants and inferiors, was 
not at all times restrained with sufficient strictness. But Cleveland 
made answer gaily, " If these honest fellows be my comrades, I will 
answer for them that they will never trouble the country about a 
parcel of chests, hammocks, and such trumpery, that the Roost 
may have washed ashore out of my poor sloop. What signifies to 

U 3 


them whether the trash went to Bryce Snailsfoot, or to the bottom, 
or to the devil ? So unbuckle thy pack, Bryce, and show the ladies 
thy cargo, and perhaps we may see something that will please 

" It cannot be his consort," said Brenda, in a whisper to her 
sister ; " he would have shown more joy at her appearance." 

" It must be the vessel," answered Minna ; " I saw his eye glisten 
at the thought of being again united to the partner of his dangers." 

" Perhaps it glistened," said her sister, still apart, " at the thought 
of leaving Zetland ; it is difficult to guess the thought of the heart 
from the glance of the eye." 

" Judge not, at least, unkindly of a friend's thought," said Minna ; 
" and then, Brenda, if you are mistaken, the fault rests not with 

During this dialogue, Bryce Snailsfoot was busied in uncoiling 
the carefully arranged cordage of his pack, which amounted to six 
good yards of dressed seal-skin, curiously complicated and secured 
by all manner of knots and buckles. He was considerably inter- 
rupted in the fask by the Udaller and others, who pressed him with 
questions respecting the stranger vessel. 

" Were the officers often ashore ? and how were they received 
by the people of Kirkwall?" said Magnus Troil. 

" Excellently well," answered Bryce Snailsfoot ; " and the 
Captain and one or two of his men had been at some of the vanities 
and dances which went forward in the town ; but there had been 
some word about customs, or king's duties, or the like, and some of 
the higher folk, thattook upon them as magistrates, or the like, 
had had words with the Captain, and he refused to satisfy them ; 
and then it is like he was more coldly looked on, and he spoke of 
carrying the ship round to Stromness, or the Langhope, for she lay 
under the guns of the battery at Kirkwall. But he " (Bryce) 
" thought she wad bide at Kirkwall till the summer-fair was over, 
for all that." 

"The Orkney gentry," said Magnus Troil, "are always in a 
hurry to draw the Scotch collar tighter round their own necks. Is 
it not enough that we must pay scat and ■kiattle, which were all the 
public dues under our old Norse government ; but must they come 
over us with king's dues and customs besides ? It is the part of an 
lionest man to resist these things. I have done so all my life, and 
will do so to the end of it." 

There was a loud jubilee and shout of applause among the guests, 
who were (some of them at least) better pleased, with Magnus 
Troil's latitudinarian principles with respect to the public revenue; 
(which were extremely natural to those living in so secluded a 


situation, and subjected to many additional exactions,) than they 
had been witli the rigour of his judgment on the subject of wrecked 
goods. But Minna's inexperienced feelings carried her farther 
than her father, while she whispered to Brenda, not unheard by 
Cleveland, that the tame spirit of the Orcadians had missed every 
chance which late incidents had given them to emancipate these 
islands from the Scottish yoke. 

"Why," she said, "should we not, under so many changes as 
late times have introduced, have seized the opportunity to shake 
off an allegiance which is not justly due from us, and to return to 
the protection of Denmark, our parent country ? Why should we 
yet hesitate to do this, but that the gentry of Orkney have mixed 
families and friendships so much with our invaders, that they have 
become dead to the throb of the heroic Norse blood, which they 
derived from their ancestors ? " 

The latter part of this patriotic speech happened to reach the 
astonished ears of our friend Triptolemus, who, having a sincere 
devotion for the Protestant succession, and the Revolution as 
established, was surprised into the ejaculation, " As the old cock 
crows the young cock learns— hen I should say, mistress, and I 
crave your pardon if I say any thing amiss in either gender. But 
it is a happy country where the father declares against the king's 
customs, and the daughter against the king's crown ! and, in my 
judgment, it can end in naething but trees and tows." 

" Trees are scarce among us," said Magnus ; " and for ropes, we 
need them for our rigging, and cannot spare them to be shirt- 

" And whoever," said the Captain, " takes umbrage at what this 
young lady says, had better keep his ears and tongue for a safer 
employment than such an adventure." 

" Ay, ay," said Triptolemus, " it helps the matter much to speak 
truths, whilk are as unwelcome to a proud stomach as wet clover to 
a cow's, in a land where lads are ready to draw the whittle if a 
lassie but looks awry. But what manners are to be expected in a 
country where folk call a pleugh-sock a markal ? " 

" Hark ye. Master Yellowley," said the Captain, smiling, " I hope 
my manners are not among those abuses which you come hither to 
reform ; any experiment on them may be dangerous." 

" As well as difficult," said Triptolemus, dryly ; ".but fear nothing. 
Captain Cleveland, from my remonstrances. My labours regard 
the men and things of the earth, and not the men and things of the 
sea, — you are not of my element." 

"'Let us be friends, then, old clod-compeller," said the Captain.. 

" Clod-compeller ! " said the agriculturist, bethinking himself of 


the lore of his earlier days ; " Clod-compeller/ro cloud-compeller, 
fiecjjeXrjye^eTa ^€vs — Grcecv7n est,—\TX which voyage came you by 
that phrase ? " 

" I have travelled books as well as seas in my day," said the 
Captain ; " but my last voyages have been of a sort to make me 
forget my early cruizes through classic knowledge. — But come 
here, Bryce, — hast cast off the lashing ? — Come all hands, and let 
us see if he has aught in his cargo that is worth looking upon." 

With a proud, and, at the same time, a wily smile, did the crafty 
pedlar display a collection of wares far superior to those which 
usually filled his packages, and, in particular, some stuffs and em- 
broideries, of such beauty and curiosity, fringed, flowered, and 
worked, with such art and magnificence, upon foreign and arabes- 
que patterns, that the sight might have dazzled a far more brilliant 
company than the simple race of Thule. All beheld and admired, 
while Mistress Baby Yellowley, holding up her hands, protested it 
was a sin even to look upon such extravagance, and worse than 
murder so much as to ask the price of them. 

Others, however, were more courageous ; and the prices demanded 
by the merchant, if they were not, as he himself declared, something 
just more than nothing — short only of an absolute free gift of his 
wares, were nevertheless so moderate, as to show that he himself 
must have made an easy acquisition of the goods, judging by the 
rate at which he offered to part with them. Accordingly, the cheap- 
ness of the articles created a rapid sale ; for in Zetland, as well as 
elsewhere, wise folk buy more from the prudential desire to secure 
a good bargain, than from any real occasion for the purchase. The 
Lady Glowrowrum bought seven petticoats and twelve stomachers 
on this sole principle, and other matrons present rivalled her in this 
sagacious species of economy. The Udaller was also a consider- 
able purchaser ; but the principal customer for whatever could 
please the eye of beauty, was the gallant Captain Cleveland, who 
rummaged the jagger's stores in selecting presents for the ladies of 
the party, in which Minna and Brenda Troil were especially re- 

" I fear," said Magnus Troil, " that the young women are to 
consider these pretty presents as keepsakes, and that all this 
liberality is only a sure sign we are soon to lose you ? ' 

This question seemed to embarrass him to whom it was put. 

" I scarce know," he said with some hesitation, " whether this 
vessel is my consort or no — I must take a trip to Kirkwall to make 
sure of that matter, and then I hope to return to Dunrossness to 
bid you all farewell." 

" In that case," said the Udaller, after a moment's pause, " I 


think I may carry you thither. I should be at the Kirkwall fair, to 
settle with the merchants I have consigned my fish to, and I have 
often promised Minna and Brenda that they should see the fair. 
Perhaps also your consort, or these strangers, whoever they be, 
may have some merchandise that will suit me. I love to see my 
rigging-loft well stocked with goods., almost as much as to see it full 
of dancers. We will go to Orkney in my own brig, and I can offer 
you a hammock, if you will." 

The offer seemed so acceptable to Cleveland, that, after pouring 
himself forth in thanks, he seemed determined to mark his joy by 
exhausting Bryce Snailsfoot's treasures in liberality to the com- 
pany. The contents of a purse of gold were transferred to the 
jagger, with a facility and indifference on the part of its former 
owner which argued either the greatest profusion, or consciousness 
of superior and inexhaustible wealth ; so that Baby whispered to 
her brother, that, " if he could afford to fling away money at this 
rate, the lad had made a better voyage in a broken ship, than all 
the skippers of Dundee had made in their haill anes for a twelve- 
month past." 

But the angry feeling in which she made this remark was much 
mollified, when Cleveland, whose object it seemed that evening to 
be, to buy golden opinions of all sorts of men, approached her with 
a garment somewhat resembling in shape the Scottish plaid, but 
woven of a sort of wool so soft, that it felt to the touch as if it were 
composed of eider-down. " This," he said, " was a part of a 
Spanish lady's dress, called a mantilla; as it would exactly fit the 
size of Mrs. Baby Yellowley, and was very well suited for the fogs 
of the climate of Zetland, he entreated her to wear it for his sake." 
The lady, with as much condescending sweetness as her coun- 
tenance was able to express, not only consented to receive this 
mark of gallantry, but permitted the donor to arrange the mantilla 
upon her projecting and bony shoulder-blades, where, said Claud 
Halcro, " it hung, for all the world, as if it had been stretched 
betwixt a couple of cloak-pins." 

While the Captain was performing this piece of courtesy, much 
to the entertainment of the company, which, it may be presumed, 
was his principal object from the beginning, Mordaunt Mertoun 
made purchase of a smail golden chaplet, with the private intention 
of presenting it to Brenda, when he should find an opportunity. 
The price was fixed, and the article laid aside. Claud Halcro also 
showed some desire of possessing a silver box of antique shape, for 
depositing tobacco, which he was in the habit of using in consider- 
able quantity. But the bard seldom had current coin in promptitude, 
find, indeed; in his wandering way of life, had little roccasion for 


any ; and Bryce, on the other hand, his having been hitherto a 
ready-money trade, protested, that his very moderate profits upon 
such rare and choice articles, vcould not allow of his affording credit 
to the purchaser. Mordaunt gathered the import of this conversa- 
tion from the mode in which they whispered together, while the 
bard seemed to advance a wishful finger towards the box in 
question, and the cautious pedlar detained it with the weight of his 
whole hand, as if he had been afraid it would literally make itself 
wings, and fly into Claud Halcro's pocket. Mordaunt Mertoun at 
this moment, desirous to gratify an old acquaintance, laid the price 
of the box on the table, and said he would not permit Master Halcro 
to purchase that box, as he had settled in his own mind to make 
him a present of it. 

" I cannot think of robbing you, my dear young friend," said the 
poet ; " but the truth is, that that same box does remind me 
strangely of glorious John's, out of which I had the honour to take 
a pinch at the Wits' Coffeehouse, for which I think more highly of 
my right-hand finger and thumb than any other part of my body ; 
only you must allow me to pay you back the price' when my 
Urkaster stock-fish come to market." 

" Settle that as you like betwixt you," said the jagger, taking up 
Mordaunt's money ; " the box is bought and sold." 

" And how dare you sell over again," said Captain Cleveland, 
suddenly interfering, " what you already have sold to me ? " 

All were surprised at this interjection, which was hastily maae, 
as Cleveland, having turned from Mistress Baby, had become sud- 
denly, and, as it seemed, not without emotion, aware what articles'" 
Bryce Snailsfoot was now disposing of To this short and fierce 
question, the jagger, afraid to contradict a customer of his descrip- 
tion, answered only by stammering, that the " Lord knew he meant 
nae offence." 

" How, sir ! no offence ! " said the seaman, " and dispose of my 
property ? " extending his hand at the same time to the box and 
chaplct ; " restore the young gentleman's money, and learn to keep 
your course on the meridian of honesty." 

The jagger, confused and reluctant, pulled out his leathern pouch 
to repay to Mordaunt the money he had just deposited in it ; but 
the youth was not to be so satisfied. 

" The articles," he said, " were bought and sold— these were 
your own words, Bryce Snailsfoot, in Master Halcro's hearing; 
and I will suffer neither you nor any other to deprive' me of my 

" Your property, young man ? " said Cleveland ; " It is mine, — I 
spoke to Bryce respecting them an instant before I turned from the 


'' I — I — I had not just heard distinctly,'' said Bryce, evidently 
unwilling to offend either party. 

" Come, come," said the Udaller, " we will have no quarrelling 
about baubles ; we shall be summoned presently to the rigging- 
loft," -so he used to call the apartment used as a ball-room, — " and 
we must all go in good-humour. The things shall remain with 
Bryce for to-night, and to-morrow I will myself settle whom they 
shall belong to." 

The laws of the Udaller in his own house were absolute as those 
of the Medes. The two young men, regarding each other with 
looks of sullen displeasure, drew off in different directions. 

It is seldom that the second day of a prolonged festival equals 
the first. The spirits, as well as the limbs, are jaded, and unequal 
to the renewed expenditure of animation and exertion ; and the 
dance at Burgh- Westra was sustained with much less mirth than 
on the preceding evening. It was yet an hour from midnight, when 
even the reluctant Magnus Troil, after regretting the degeneracy 
of the times, and wishing he could transfuse into the modern 
Hialtlanders some of the vigour which still animated his own 
frame, found himself compelled to give the signal for general 

Just as this took place, Halcro, leading Mordaunt Mertoun a 
little aside, said he had a message to him from Captain Cleveland. 

'A message ! " said Mordaunt, his heart beating somewhat thick 
as he spoke — " A challenge, I suppose ? " 

" A challenge ! " repeated Halcro ; " who ever heard of a chal- 
lenge in our quiet islands ? Do you think that I look like a carrier 
of challenges, and to you of all men living ? — I am none of those 
fighting fools, as glorious John calls them ; and it was not quite a 
message I had to deliver — only thus far — this Captain Cleveland 
I find, hath set his heart upon having these articles you looked at." 

" He shall not have them, I swear to you," replied Mordaunt 

" Nay, but hear me," said Halcro ; " it seems that, by the marks 
or arms that are upon them, he knows that they were formerly his 
property. Now, were you to give me the box, as you promised, I 
fairly tell you, I should give the man back his own." 

" And Brenda might do the like," thought Mordaunt to himself, 
and instantly replied aloud, " I have thought better of it, my friend. 
Captain Cleveland shall have the toys he sets such store by, but it 
is on one sole condition." 

" Nay, you will spoil all with your conditions," said Halcro ; 
" for, as glorious John says, conditions are but " 

" Hear me, I say, with patience.— My condition is, that he keeps 


the toys in exchange for the rifle-gun I accepted from him, which 
will leave no obligation between us on either side." 

" I see where you would be — this is Sebastian and Dorax all 
over. Well, you may let the jagger know he is to deliver the 
things to Cleveland— I think he is mad to have them— and I will 
let Cleveland know the conditions annexed, otherwise honest Bryce 
might come by two payments instead of one ; and I believe his 
conscience would not choke upon it." 

With these words, Halcro went to seek out Cleveland, while 
Mordaunt, observing Snailsfoot, who, as a sort of privileged person, 
had thrust himself into the crowd at the bottom of the dancing- 
room, went up to him, and gave him directions to deliver the dis- 
puted articles to Cleveland as soon as he had an opportunity. 

" Ye are in the right, Maister Mordaunt," said the jagger ; " ye 
are a prudent and a sensible lad — a calm answer turneth away 
wrath — and mysell, I sail be willing to please you in ony trifling 
matters in my sma' way ; for, between the Udaller of Burgh- Westra 
and Captain Cleveland, a man is, as it were, atween the deil and 
the deep sea; and it was like that the Udaller, in the end, would 
have taken your part in the dispute, for he is a man that loves 

" Which apparently you care very little about. Master Snails- 
foot," said Mordaunt, " otherwise there could have been no dispute 
whatever, the right being so clearly on my side, if you had pleased 
to bear witness according to the dictates of truth." 

" Maister Mordaunt," said the jagger, " I must own there was, 
as it were, a colouring or shadow of justice on your side ; but then, 
the justice that I meddle with, is only justice in the way of trade, 
to have an ellwand of due length, if it be not something worn out 
with leaning on it in my lang and painful journeys, and to buy and 
sell by just weight and measure, twenty-four merks to the lispund ; 
but I have nothing to do, to do justice betwixt man and man, like 
a Fowd or a Lawright-man at a lawting lang syne." 

" No one asked you to do so, but only to give evidence according 
to your conscience," replied Mordaunt, not greatly pleased either 
with the part the jagger had acted during the dispute, or the con- 
struction which he seemed to put on his own motives for yielding 
up the point. 

But Bryce Snailsfoot wanted not his answer ; " My conscience," 
he said, " Maister Mordaunt, is as tender as ony man's in my de- 
gree ; but she is something of a timorsome nature, cannot abide 
angry folk, and can never speak above her breath, when there is 
aught of a fray going forward. Indeed, she hath at all times 4 
small and low voice," 


" Which you are not much in the habit of listening to,'' said 

" There is that on your ain breast that proves the contrary," said 
Bryce, resolutely. 

" In my breast ? " said Mordaunt, somewhat angrily, — " what 
know I of you ? " 

" I said on your breast, Maister Mordaunt, and not in it. I am 
sure nae eye that looks on that waistcoat upon your own gallant 
brisket, but will say, that the merchant who sold such a piece for 
four dollars had justice and conscience, and a kind heart to a 
customer to the boot of a' that ; sae ye shouldna be sae thrawart 
wi' me for having spared the breath of my mouth in a fool's 

" I thrawart ! " said Mordaunt ; "pooh, you silly man ! I have 
no quarrel with you." 

" I am glad of it," said the travelling merchant ; " I will quarrel 
with no man, with my will — least of all with an old customer ; and 
if you will walk by my advice, you will quarrel nane with Captain 
Cleveland. He is like one of yon cutters and slashers that have 
come into Kirkwall, that think as little of slicing a man, as we do 
of flinching a whale — it's their trade to fight, and they live by it ; 
and they have the advantage of the like of you, that only take it up 
at your own hand, and in the way of pastime, when you hae nothing 
better to do." 

The company had now almost all dispersed ; and Mordaunt, 
laughing at the jagger's caution, bade him good-night, and went to 
his own place of repose, which had been assigned to him by Eric 
Scambester, (who acted the part of chamberlain as well as butler,) 
in a small room, or rather closet, in one of the out -houses, furnished 
for the occasion with the hammock of a sailor. 


I pass like night from land to land, 

I have strange power of speech ; 
So soon as e'er his face I see, 
I know the man that must hear me. 

To him my tale I teach. 

Coleridge's Ri7ne of the Ancient Mariner. 

The daughters of Magnus Troil shared the same bed, in a 
chamber which had been that of their parents before the death 


of their mother. Magnus, who suffered grievously under that 
dispensation of Providence, had become disgusted with the 
apartment. The nuptial chamber was abandoned to the pledges 
of his bereaved affection, of whom the eldest was at that period 
only four years old, or thereabouts ; and, having been their nursery 
in infancy, continued, though now tricked and adorned according 
to the best fashion of the islands, and the taste of the lovely sisters 
themselves, to be their sleeping-room, or, in the old Norse dialect, 
their bower. 

It had been for many years the scene of the most intimate con- 
iidence, if that could be called confidence, where, in truth, there 
was nothing to be confided ; where neither sister had a secret ; and 
where every thought that had birth in the bosom of the one, was, 
without either hesitation or doubt, confided to the other as 
spontaneously as it had arisen. But, since Cleveland abode in the 
mansion of Burgh-Westra, each of the lovely sisters had entertained 
thoughts which are not lightly or easily communicated, unless she 
who listens to them has previously assured herself that the con- 
fidence will be kindly received. Minna had noticed what other 
and less interested observers had been unable to perceive, that 
Cleveland, namely, held a lower rank in Brenda's opinion than in 
her own ; and Brenda', on her side, thought that Minna had hastily 
and unjustly joined in the prejudices which had been excited against 
Mordaunt Mertoun in the mind of their father. Each was sensible 
that she was no longer the same to her sister ; and this conviction 
was a painful addition to other painful apprehensions which they 
supposed they had to struggle with. Their manner towards each 
other was, in outward appearances, and in all the little cares by 
which affection can be expressed, even more assiduously kind than 
before, as if both, conscious that their internal reserve was a breach 
of their sisterly union, strove to atone for it by double assiduity in 
those external marks of affection, which, at other times, when there 
was nothing to hide, might be omitted without inferring any 

On the night reierred to in particular, the sisters felt more 
especially the decay of the confidence which used to exist betwixt 
them. The proposed voyage to Kirkwall, and that at the time of 
the fair, when persons of every degree in these islands repair thither, 
either for business or amusement, was likely to be an important 
incident in lives usually so simple and uniform as theirs ; and, a 
few months ago, Minna and Brenda would have been awake half 
the night, anticipating, in their talk with each other, all that was 
likely to happen on so momentous an occasion. But now the 
subject was just mentioijed, and suffered to drop, as if the tcpig 


Was likely to produce a difference betwixt them, or to call forth a 
more open display of their several opinions than either was willing 
to make to the other. 

Yet such was their natural openness and gentleness of disposition, 
that each sister imputed to herself the fault that there was aught 
like estrangement existing between them ; and when, having 
finished their devotions, and betaken themselves to their common 
couch, they folded each other in their arms, and exchanged a 
sisterly kiss, and a sisterly good-night, they seemed mutually to ask 
pardon, and to exchange forgiveness, although neither said a word 
of offence, either offered or received ; and both were soon plunged 
in that light and yet profound repose, which is only enjoyed when 
§leep sinks down on the eyes of youth and innocence. 

On the night to which the story relates, both sisters were visited 
by dreams, which, though varied by the moods and habits of the 
sleepers, bore yet a strange general resemblance to each other. 

Minna dreamed that she was in one of the most lonely recesses 
of the beach, called Swartaster, where the incessant operation of 
the waves, indenting a calcarious rock, has formed a deep halier, 
which, in the language of the island, means a subterranean cavern, 
into which the tide ebbs and flows. Many of these run to an 
extraordinary and unascertained depth under ground, and are the 
secure retreat of cormorants and seals, which it is neither easy nor 
safe to pursue to their extreme recesses. Amongst these, this halier 
of Swartaster was accounted peculiarly inaccessible, and shunned 
both by fowlers and by seamen, on account of sharp angles and 
turnings in the cave itself, as well as the sunken rocks which 
rendered it very dangerous for skiffs or boats to advance far into it, 
especially if there was the usual swell of an island tide. From the 
dark-browed mouth of this cavern, it seemed to Minna, in her dream, 
that she beheld a mermaid issue, not in the classical dress of a 
Nereid, as in Claud Halcro's mask of the preceding evening, but 
with comb and glass in hand, according to popular belief, and 
lashing the waves with that long scaly train, which, in the traditions 
of the country, forms so frightful a contrast with the fair face, long 
tresses, and displayed bosom, of a human and earthly female, of 
surpassing beauty. She seemed to beckon to Minna, while her 
wild notes rang sadly in her ear, and denounced, in prophetic 
sounds, calamity and woe. 

The vision of Brenda was of a different description, yet equally 
melancholy. She sat, as she thought, in her favourite bower, sur- 
rounded by her father and a party of his most beloved friends, 
amongst whom Mordaunt Mertoun was not forgotten. She was 
required to sing ; and she strove to entertain them with a lively 


ditty, in which she was accounted eminently successful, and 
which she sung with such simple, yet natural humour, as seldom 
failed to produce shouts of laughter and applause, while all who 
could, or who could not sing, were irresistibly compelled to lend 
their voices to the chorus. But, on this occasion, it seemed as if 
her own voice refused all it^ usual duty, and as if, while she felt 
herself unable to express the words of the well-known air, it 
assumed, in her own despite, the deep tones and wild and melan- 
choly notes of Noma of Fitful-head, for the purpose of chanting 
some wild Runic rhyme, resembling those sung by the heathen 
priests of old, when the victim (too often human) was bound to the 
fatal altar of Odin or of Thor. 

At length the two sisters at once started from sleep, and, uttering 
a low scream of fear, clasped themselves in each other's arms. 
For their fancy had not altogether played them false ; the sounds, 
which had suggested their dreams, were real, and sung within their 
apartment. They knew the voice well, indeed, and yet, knowing 
to whom it belonged, their surprise and fear were scarce the less, 
when they saw the well-known Noma of Fitful-head, seated by the 
chimney of the apartment, which, during the summer season, con- 
tained an iron lamp well trimmed, and, in winter, a fire of wood or 
of turf. 

She was wrapped in her long and ample garment of wadmaal, 
and moved her body slowly to and fro over the pale flame of the 
lamp, as she sung lines to the following purport, in a slow, sad, and 
almost an unearthly accent : , 

" For leagues along the watery way. 
Through gulf and stream my course has been ; 

The billows know my Runic lay. 
And smooth their crests to silent green. 

" The billows know my Runic lay, — 
The gulf grows smooth, the stream is still ; 

But human hearts, more wild than they. 
Know but the rule of wayward will. 

" One hour is mine, in all the year. 
To tell my woes, — and one alone ; 
When gleams this magic lamp, 'tis here, — 
When dies the mystic light, 'tis gone. 

" Daughters of northern Magnus, hail ! 

The lamp is lit, the flame is clear, — 
To you I come to tell my tale, 

Awake, arise, my tale to hear I" 


Noma was well known, to the daughters of Troil, but it was not 
without emotion, although varied by their respective dispositions, 
that they beheld her so unexpectedly^ and at such an hour. Their 
opinions with respect to the supernatural attributes to which she 
pretended, were extremely different. 

Minna, with an unusual intensity of imagination, although 
superior in talent to her sister, was more apt to listen to, and 
delight in, every tale of wonder, and was at all times more willing 
to admit impressions which gave her fancy scope and exercise, 
without minutely examining their reality. Brenda, on the other 
hand, had, in her gaiety, a slight propensity to satire, and was 
often tempted to laugh at the very circumstances upon which 
Minna founded her imaginative dreams ; and, like all who love 
the ludicrous, she did not readily suffer herself to be imposed upon, 
or overawed, by pompous pretensions of any kind whatever. But, 
as her nerves were weaker and more irritable than those of her 
sister, she often paid involuntary homage, by her fears, to ideas 
which her reason disowned ; and hence, Claud Halcro used to say 
in reference to many of the traditionary superstitions around Burgh- 
Westra, that Minna believed them without trembling, and that 
Brenda trembled without believing them. In our own" more 
enlightened days, there are few whose undoubting mind and native 
courage have not felt Minna's high wrought tone of enthusiasm ; 
and perhaps still fewer, who have not, at one time or other, felt, 
like Brenda, their nerves confess the influence of terrors which 
their reason disowned and despised. 

Under the power of such different feelings, Minna, when the first 
moment of surprise was over, prepared to spring from her bed, and 
go to greet Noma, who, she doubted not, had come on some errand 
fraught with fate ; while Brenda, who only beheld in her a woman 
partially deranged in her understanding, and who yet, fro;n the 
extravagance of her claims, regarded her as an undefined object of 
awe, or rather terror, detained her sister by an eager and terrified 
grasp, while she whispered in her ear an anxious entreaty that she 
would call for assistance. But the soul of Minna was too highly 
wrought up by the crisis at which her fate seemed to have arrived, 
to permit her to follow the dictates of her sister's fears ; and, extri- 
cating herself from Brenda's hold, she hastily threw on a loose 
nightgown, and, stepping boldly across the apartment, while her 
heart throbbed rather with high excitement than with fear, she 
thus addressed her singular visitor: 

" Noma, if your mission regards us, as your words seem to 
express, there is one of us, at least; who will receive its import with 
reverence, but without fear," 


"Noma, dear Noma," said the tremulous voice of Brenda, — 
who, feehng no safety in the bed after Minna quitted it, had fol- 
lowed her, as fugitives crowd into the rear of an advancing army, 
because they dare not remain behind, and who now stood half 
concealed by her sister, and holding fast by the skirts of her gown, — 
Noma, dear Noma," said she, "whatever you are to say, let it be 
to-morrow. I will call Euphane Fea, the housekeeper, and she 
will find you a bed for the night." 

" No bed for me ! " said their nocturnal visitor ; " no closing of 
the eyes for me ! They have watched as shelf and stack appeared 
and disappeared betwixt Burgh-Westra and Orkney — they have 
seen the Man of Hoy sink into the sea, and the Peak of HengcM 
arise from it, and yet they have not tasted of slumber ; nor must 
they slumber now till my task is ended. Sit down, then, Minna, 
and thou, silly trembler, sit down, while I trim my lamp — Don your 
clothes, for the tale is long, and ere 'tis done, ye will shiver with 
worse than cold." 

" For Heaven's sake, then, put it off till daylight, dear Noma ! " 
said Brenda ; " the dawn cannot be far distant ; and if you are to 
tell us of anything frightful, let it be by daylight, and not by the 
dim glimmer of that blue lamp ! " 

" Patience, fool ! " said their uninvited guest. " Not by daylight 
should Noma tell a tale that might blot the sun out of heaven, and 
blight the hopes of the hundred boats that will leave this shore ere 
noon, to commence their deep-sea fishing, — ay, and of the hundred 
families that will await their return. The demon, whom the sounds 
will not fail to awaken, must shake his dark wings over a shipless 
and a boatless sea, as he rushes from his mountain to drink the 
accents of horror he loves so well to listen to." 

" Have pity on Brenda's fears, good Noma," said the elder sister, 
" and at least postpone this frightful communication to another 
place and hour." 

"Maiden, no!" replied Noma, sternly; " it must be told while 
that lamp yet bums. Mine is no daylight tale — by that lamp it 
must be told, which is framed out of the gibbet-irons of the cruel 
Lord of Wodensvoe, who murdered his brother ; and has for its 
nourishment — but be that nameless — enough that its food never 
came either from the fish or from the fruit ! — See, it waxes dim and 
dimmer, nor must my tale last longer than its flame endureth. Sit 
ye down there, while I sit here opposite to you, and place the lamp 
betwixt us ; for within the sphere of its light the demon dares not 

CThe sisters obeyed, Minna casting a slow awe-struck, yet deter- 
mined look all around, as if to see the Being, who, according to the 


doubtful words of Norna, hovered in their neighbourhood ; while 
Brenda's fears were mingled with some share both of anger and of 
impatience. Norna paid no attention to eitker, but.- began her 
story in the following words : — 

" Ye know, my daughters, that your blood is allied to mine, but 
in what degree ye know not ; for there was early hostility betwixt 
your grandsire and him who had the misfortune to call me daughter. 
— Let me term him by his Christian name of Erland, for that which 
marks our relation I dare not bestow. Your grandsire Olave, was 
the brother of Erland. But when the wide Udal possessions of 
their father Rolfe Troil, the most rich and well estated of any who 
descended from the old Norse stock, were divided betwixt the 
brothers, the Fowd gave to Erland his father's lands in Orkney, 
and reserved for Olave those of Hialtland. Discord arose between 
the brethren ; for Erland held that he was wronged ; and when the 
Lawting,* with the Raddmen and Law-right-men, confirmed the 
division, he went in wrath to Orkney, cursing Hialtland and its 
inhabitants — cursing his brother and his blood. 

" But the love of the rock and of the mountain still wrought on 
Erland's mind, and he fixed his dwelling not on the soft hills of 
Ophir, or the green plains of Gramesey, but in the wild and moun- 
tainous Isle of Hoy, whose summit rises to the sky like the cUffs of 
Foulah and of Feroe.* He knew, — that unhappy Erland, — what- 
ever of legendary lore Scald and Bard had left behind them ; and 
to teach me that knowledge, which was to cost us both so dear, was 
the chief occupation of his old age. I learned to visit each lonely 
barrow — each lofty cairn — to tell its appropiiate tale, and to sooth 
with rhymes in his praise the spirit of the stern warrior who dwelt 
within. I knew where the sacrifices were made of yore to Thor 
and to Odin, on what stones the blood of the victims flowed — 
where stood the dark-browed priest — where the crested chiefs, who 
consulted the will of the idol — where the more distant crowd of 
inferior worshippers, who looked on in awe or in terror. The 
places most shunned by the timid peasants had no terrors for me ; 
I dared walk in the fairy circle, and sleep by the magic spring. 

" But, for my misfortune, I was chiefly fond to linger about the 
Dwarfie Stone, as it is called, a relic of antiquity, which strangers 
look on with curiosity, and the natives with awe. It is a huge 
fragment of rock, which lies in a broken and rude valley, full of 
stones and precipices, in the recesses of the Ward-hill of Hoy. 
The inside of the rock has two couches, hewn by no earthly hand, 
and having a small passage between them. The doorwav is now 
open to the weather ; but beside it lies a large stone, which, 
adapted to grooves still visible in the entrance, once bad served to 



open and to close this extraordinary dwelling, which TroUd, a 
dwarf famous in the northern Sagas, is said to have framed for his 
own favourite residence. The lonely shepherd avoids the place ; 
for at sunrise, high noon, or sunset, the misshapen form of the 
necromantic owner may sometimes still be seen sitting by the 
Dwarfie Stone.* I feared not the apparition, for, Minna, my heart 
was as bold, and my hand was as innocent as yours. In my 
childish courage, I was even but too presumptuous, and the thirst 
after things unattainable led me, like our primitive mother, to 
desire increase of knowledge, even by prohibited means. I longed 
to possess the power of the Voluspae and divining women of our 
ancient race ; to wield, like them, command over the elements ; 
and to summon the ghosts of deceased heroes from their caverns, 
that they might recite their daring deeds, and impart to me their 
hidden treasures Often when watching by the Dwarfie Stone, 
with mine eyes fixed on the Ward-hill, which rises above that 
gloomy valley, I have distinguished, among the dark rocks, that 
wonderful carbuncle,* which gleams ruddy as a furnace to them 
who view it from beneath, but has ever become invisible to 
him whose daring foot has scaled the precipices from which it 
darts its splendour. My vain and youthful bosom burned to inves- 
tigate these and an hundred other mysteries, which the Sagas that 
I perused, or learned from Erland, rather indicated than explained ; 
and in my daring mood, I called on the Lord of the Dwarfie Stone 
to aid me in attaining knowledge inaccessible to mere mortals." 

"And the evil spirit heard your summons?" said Minna, her 
blood curdling as she listened. 

" Hush," said Noma, lowering her voice, " vex him not with 
reproach — he is with us — he hears us even now." 

Brenda started from her seat. — " I will to Euphane Fea's 
chamber," she said, " and leave you, Minna and Noma, to finish 
your stories of hobgoblins and of dwarfs at your own leisure ; I 
care not for them at any time, but I will not endure them at mid- 
night, and by this pale lamplight." 

She was accordingly in the act of leaving the room, when her 
sister detained her. 

" Is this the courage," she said, " of her, that disbelieves what- 
ever the history of our fathers tells us of supernatural prodigy.' 
What Noma has to tell concerns the fate, perhaps, of our father 
atid his house ; — if I can listen to it, trusting that God and my 
innocence will protect me from all that is malignant, you, Brenda, 
who believe not in such influence, have surely no cause to tremble. 
Credit me, that for the guiltless there is no fear." 

" There may be no danger," said Brenda, unable to suppress her 



natural turn for humour, " but, as the old jest book says, there is 
much fear. However, Minna, I will stay with you : — the rather," 
she added, in a whisper, " that I am loath to leave you alone with 
this frightful woman, and that I have a dark staircase and long 
passage betwixt and Euphane Fea, else I would have her hero ere 
I were five minutes older." 

" Call no one hither, maiden, upon peril of thy life," said 
Noma, "and interrupt not my tale again ; for it cannot and must 
not be told after that charmed light has ceased to burn." 

"And I thank Heaven," said Brenda to herself, "that the oil 
burns low in the cruize ! I am sorely tempted to lend it a puff, 
but then Noma would be alone with us in the dark, and that 
would be worse." 

So saying, she submitted to her fate, and sat down, determined 
to listen with all the equanimity which she could command to the 
remaining part of Noma's tale, which went on as foUow's : — 

" It happened on a hot summer day, and just about the hour of 
noon," continued Noma, " as I eat by the Dwarfie Stone, with 
my eyes fixed on the Ward-hill, whence the mysterious and ever- 
burning carbuncle shed its rays more brightly than usual, and 
repined in my heart at the restricted bounds of human know- 
ledge, that at length I could not help exclaiming, in the words 
of an ancient Saga, 

' Dwellers of the mountain, rise, 
TroUd the powerful, Hairas the wise ! 
Ye who taught weak woman's tongue 
Words that sway the wise and strong, — 
Ye who taught weak woman's hand 
How to wield the magic wand, 
And wake the gales on Foulah's steep, 
Or lull wild Sumburgh's waves to sleep ! — 
Still are ye yet? — Not yours the power 
Ye knew in Odin's mightier hour. 
What are ye now but empty names, 
Powerful TroUd, sagacious Haims, 
That, lightly spoken, lightly heard. 
Float on the air like thistle's beard ? ' 

" I had scarce uttered these words," proceeded Noma, " era 
the sky, which had been till then unusually clear, grew so 
suddenly dark around me, that it seemed more like midnight 
than noon. A single flash of lightning showed me at once the 
desolate landscape of heath, morass, mountain, and precipice, 
which lay around ; a single clap of thunder wakened all the 
echoes of the Ward-hill, which continued so long to repeat the 

o 2 


sound, that it seemed some rock, rent by the thunderbolt from the 
summit, was rolling over cliff and precipice into the valley. Imme- 
diately after, fell a burst of rain so violent, that I was fain to shun 
its pelting, by creeping into the interior of the mysterious stone. 

" I seated myself on the larger stone couch, which is cut at the 
farther end of the cavity, and, with my eyes fixed on the smaller 
bed, wearied myself with conjectures respecting the origin and 
purpose of my singular place of refuge. Had it been really the 
work of that powerful Ti'oUd, to whom the poetry of the Scalds 
referred it? Or was it the tomb of some Scandinavian chief, 
interred with his arms and his wealth, perhaps also with his immo- 
lated wife, that what he loved best in life might not in death be 
divided from him ? Or was it the abode of penance, chosen by 
some devoted anchorite of later days ? Or the idle work of some 
wandering mechanic, whom chance, and whim, and leisure, had 
thrust upon such an undertaking ? I tell you the thoughts that 
then floated through my brain, that ye may know that what ensued 
was not the vision of a prejudiced or prepossessed imagination, but 
an apparition, as certain as it was awful. 

" Sleep had gradually crept on me, amidst my lucubrations, when 
I was startled from my slumbers by a second clap of thunder ; 
and, when I awoke, I saw, through the dim light which the upper 
aperture admitted, the unshapely and indistinct form of TroUd the 
dwarf, seated opposite to nie on the lesser couch, which his square 
and misshapen bulk seemed absolutely to fill up. I was startled, 
but not affrighted ; for the blood of the ancient race of Lochlin 
was warm in my veins. He spoke ; and his words were of Norse, 
so old, that few, save my father, or I myself, could have compre- 
hended their import, — such language as was spoken in these islands 
ere Olave planted the cross on the ruins of heathenism. His mean- 
ing was dark also and obscure, like that which the Pagan priests 
were wont to deliver, in the name of their idols, to the tribes that 
assembled at the Helgafels.* This was the import,— 

' A thousand winters dark have flown. 
Since o'er the threshold of my Stone 
A votaress pass'd my power to own. 
Visitor bold 
Of the mansion of TroUd, 

Maiden haughty of heart, 
Who hast hither presumed, — 
Ungifted, undoom'd, 

Thou shalt not depart ; 
The power thou dost covet 

O'er tempest and wave, 

THE PIRAtiJ. to? 

Shall be thine, thou proud maiden, 
By beach and by cave, — 
By stack * and by skerry,* by noup * and by voe,* 
By air* and by wick,* and by lielyer* and gio,* 
And by every wild shore which the northern winds know, 

And the northern tides lave. 
But though this shall be given thee, thou desperately orave, 
I doom thee that never the gift thou shalt have, 

Till thou reave thy life's giver 

Of the gift which he gave.' 

" I answered him in nearly the same strain ; for the spirit of the 
ancient Scalds of our race was upon me, and, far from fearing the 
phantom, with whom I sat cooped within so narrow a space, I 
felt the impulse of that high courage which thrust the ancient 
Champions and Druidesses upon contests with the invisible world, 
when they thought that the earth no longer contained enemies 
worthy to be subdued by them. Therefore did I answer him 
thus : — 

' Dark are thy words, and severe. 

Thou dweller in the stone ; 
But trembling and fear 

To her are unknown. 
Who hath sought thee here. 

In thy dwelling lone. 
Come what comes soever, 

The worst I can endure ; 
Life is but a short fever. 

And Death is the cure.' 

" The Demon scowled at me, as if at once incensed and over- 
awed ; and then coiling himself up in a thick and sulphureous 
vapour, he disappeared from his place. I did not, till that 
moment, feel the influence of fright, but then it seized me. I 
rushed into the open air, where the tempest had passed away, and 
all was pure and serene. After a moment's breathless pause, I 
hasted home, musing by the way on the words of the phantom, 
which I could not, as often happens, recall so distinctly to memory 
at the time, as I have been able to do since. 

" It may seem strange that such an apparition should, in time, 
have glided from my mind, like a vision of the night — but so it 
was. I brought myself to believe it the work of fancy— I thought 
I had lived too much in solitude, and had given way too much to 
the feelings inspired by my favourite studies. I abandoned them 
for a time, and I mixed with the youth of my age. I was upon a 

ijs The pirAtE. 

visit at Kirkwall when I learned to know your father, whom busi- 
ness had brought thither. He easily found access to the relation 
with whom I lived, who was anxious to compose, if possible, the 
feud which divided our families. Your father, maidens, has been 
rather hardened than changed by years— he had the same manly 
form, the same old Norse frankness of manner and of heart, the 
same upright courage and honesty of disposition, with more of the 
gentle ingenuousness of youth, an eager desire to please, a willing- 
ness to be pleased, and a vivacity of spirits which survives not our 
early years. But though he was thus worthy of love, and though 
Erland wrote to me, authorizing his attachment, there was another— 
a stranger, Minna, a fatal stranger — full of arts unknown to us, and 
graces which to the plain manners of your father were, unknown. 
Yes, he walked, indeed, among us like a being of another and of a 
superior race. — Ye look on me as if it were strange that I should 
have had attractions for such a lover ; but I present nothing that 
can remind you that Noma of the Fitful-head was once admired 
and loved as UUa Troil — the change betwixt the animated body 
and the corpse after decease, is scarce more awful and abso- 
lute than I have sustained, while I yet linger on earth. Look 
on me, maidens — look on me by this glimmering light — Can ye 
believe that these haggard and weather->yasted features — these 
eyes, which have been almost converted to stone, by looking upon 
sights of terror — these locks, that, mingled with grey, now stream 
out, the shattered pennons of a sinking vessel — that these, and she 
to whom they belong, could once be the objects of fond affection? 
— But the waning lamp sinks fast, and let it sink while I tell my 
infamy. — We loved in secret, we met in secret, till I gave the last 
proof of fatal and of guilty passion ! — And now beam out, thou 
magic glimmer — shine out a little space, thou flame so powerful 
even in thy feebleness — bid him who hovers near us, keep his dark 
pinions aloof from the circle thou dost illuminate — live but a little 
till the worst be told, and then sink when thou wilt into darkness, 
as black as my guilt and sorrow ! 

While she spoke thus, she drew together the remaining nutri- 
ment ot the lamp, and trimmed its decaying flame ; then again, 
with a hollow voice, and in broken sentences, pursued her 

" I must waste little time in words. My love was discovered, 
but not my guilt. Erland came to Pomona in anger, and tran- 
sported me to our solitary dwelling in Hoy. He commanded me 
to see my lover no more, and to receive Magnus, in whom he was 
willing to forgive the offences of his father, as my future husband. 
Alas, I no longer deserved his attachment — my only wish was to 


escape from my father's dwelling, to conceal my shame in my lover's 
arms. Let me do him justice — he was faithful — too, too faithful — 
his perfidy would have bereft me of my senses ; but the fatal con- 
sequences of his fidelity have done me a tenfold injury." 

She paused, and then resumed, with the wild tone of insanity, 
" It has made me the powerful and the despairing Sovereign of the 
Seas and Winds ! " 

She paused a second time after this wild exclamation, and 
resumed her narrative in a more composed manner. 

" My lover came in secret to Hoy, to concert measures for my 
flight, and I agreed to meet him, that we might fix the time when 
his vessel should come into the Sound. I left the house at mid- 

Here she appeared to gasp with agony, and went on with her 
tale by broken and interrupted sentences. " I left the house at 
midnight — I had to pass my father's door, and I perceived it was 
open — I thought hewatched us ; and, that the sound of my steps 
might not break his slumbers, I closed the fatal door — a light and 
trivial action — but, God in Heaven, what were the consequences ! 
— At morn, the room was full of suffocating vapour — my father was 
dead — dead through my act— dead through my disobedience — dead 
through my infamy ! All that follows is mist and darkness — a 
choking, suffocating, stifling mist envelopes all that I said and did, 
all that was said and done, until I became assured that my doom 
was accomplished, and walked forth the calm and terrible being 
you now behold me — the Queen of the Elements — the sharer in 
the power of those beings to whom man and his passions give such 
sport as the tortures of the dog-fish afford the fisherman, when 
he pierces his eyes with thorns', and turns him once more into his 
native element, to traverse the waves in blindness and agony.* 
No, maidens, she whom you see before you is impassive to the 
follies of which your minds are the sport. I am she that have 
made the offering — I am she that bereaved the giver of the gift of 
life which he gave me — the dark saying has been interpreted by 
my deed, and I am taken from humanity, to be something pre- 
eminently powerful, pre-eminently wretched ! " 

As she spoke thus, the light, which had been long quivering, 
leaped high for an instant, and seemed about to expire, when 
Noma, interrupting herself, said hastily, " No more now — he 
comes— he comes — Enough that ye know me, and the right I have 
to advise and command you. — Approach now, proud Spirit ! if thou 

So saying, she extinguished the lamp, and passed out of the 
apartment with her usual loftiness of step, as Minna could observe 
from its measured cadence. 



Is all the counsel that we two have shared — 
The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent, 
When we have chid the hasty-footed time 
For parting us — O, and is all forgot ? 

{Midsummer-Night's Dream. 

The attention of Minna was powerfully arrested by this tale of 
terror, which accorded with and explained many broken hints 
respecting Noma, which she had heard from her father and other 
near relations, and she was for a time so lost in surprise, not 
unmingled with horror, that she did not even attempt to speak 
to her sister Brenda. When, at length, she called hei; by her 
name, she received no answer, and, on touching her hand, she 
found it cold as ice. Alarmed to the uttermost, she threw open 
the lattice and the window-shutters, and admitted at once the 
free air and the pale glimmer of the hyperborean summer night. 
She then became sensible that her sister was in a swoon. All 
thoughts concerning Noma, her frightful tale, and her mysterious 
connexion with the invisible world, at once vanished from Minna's 
thoughts, and she hastily ran to the apartment of the old house- 
keeper, to summon her aid, without reflecting for a moment what 
sights she might encounter in the long dark passages which she had 
to traverse. 

The old woman hastened to Brenda's assistance, and instantly 
applied such remedies as her experience suggested ; but the poor 
girl's nervous system had been so much agitated . by the horrible 
tale she had just heard, that, when recovered from her swoon, her 
utmost endeavours to compose her mind not could prevent her 
falling into a hysterical fit of some duration. This also was sub- 
dued by the experience of old Euphane Fea, who was well versed 
in all the simple pharmacy used by the natives of Zetland, and who, 
after administering a composing draught, distilled from simples 
and wild flowers, at length saw her patient resigned to sleep. Minna 
stretched herself beside her sister, kissed her cheek, and courted 
slumber in her turn ; but the more she invoked it, the farther 
it seemed to fly from her eyelids ; and if at times she was dis- 
posed to sink into repose, the voice of the involuntary parricide 
seemed again to sound in her ears, and startled her into con- 

The early morning hour at which they were accustomed to rise 


found the state of the sisters different from what might have been 
expected. A sound sleep had restored the spirit of Brenda's hglit- 
some eye, and the rose on her laughing cheek ; the transient in- 
disposition of the preceding night having left as little trouble on 
her look, as the fantastic terrors of Noma's tale had been able to 
impress on her imagination. The looks of Minna, on the contrary, 
were melancholy, downcast, and apparently exhausted by watching 
and anxiety. They said at first little to each other, as if afraid of 
touching a subject so fraught with emotion as the scene of the pre- 
ceding night. It was not until they had performed together their 
devotions, as usual, that Brenda, while lacing Minna's boddice, (for 
they rendered the services of the toilet to each other reciprocally,) 
became aware of the paleness of her sister's looks ; and having 
ascertained, by a glance at the mirror, that her own did not wear 
the same dejection, she kissed Minna's cheek, and said affec- 
tionately, " Claud Halcro was right, my dearest sister, when his 
poetical folly gave us these names of Night and Day." 
" And wherefore should you say so now ? " said Minna. 
" Because we each are bravest in the season that we take 
our name from ; I was frightened wellnigh to death, by hearing 
those things last night, which you endured with courageous firm- 
ness ; and now, when it is broad light, I can think of them with 
composure, while you look as pale as a spirit who is surprised by 

" You are lucky, Brenda," said her sister, gravely, " who can so 
soon forget such a tale of wonder and horror." 

" The horror," said Brenda, " is never to be forgotten, unless one 
could hope that the unfortunate woman's excited imagination, 
which shows itself so active in conjuring up apparitions, may have 
fixed on her an imaginary crime." 

" You believe nothing, then," said Minna, "of her interview at the 
Dwarfie Stone, that wondrous place, of which so many tales are 
told, and which, for so many centuries, has been reverenced as the. 
work of a demon, and as his abode ? " 

" I believe," said Brenda, " that our unhappy relative is no im- 
postor, — and therefore I believe that she was at the Dwarfie Stone 
during a thunder-storm, that she sought shelter in it, and that, 
during a swoon, or during sleep perhaps, some dream visited her 
concerned with the popular traditions with which she was so con- 
versant ; but I cannot easily believe more." 

" And yet the event," said Minna, " corresponded to the dark 
intimations of the vision." 

" Pardon me," said Brenda, " I rather think the dream would 
never have been put into shape, or perhaps remembered at all, but 


for the event. She tald us herself she had nearly forgot the vision, 
till after her father's dreadful death,— and who shall warrant how 
much of what she then supposed herself to remember was not the 
creation of her own fancy, disordered as it naturally was by the 
horrid accident ? Had she really seen and conversed with a necro- 
mantic dwarf, she was likely to remember the conversation long 
enough — at least I am sure I should." 

"Brenda," replied Minna, "you have heard the good minister 
of the Cross-Kirk say, that human wisdom was worse than folly, 
when it was applied to mysteries beyond its comprehension ; and 
that, if we believed no more than we could understand, we should 
resist the evidence of our senses, which presented us, at every turn, 
circumstances as certain as they were unintelligible." 

" You are too learned yourself, sister," answered Brenda, " to 
need the assistance of the good minister of Cross-Kirk ; but I 
think his doctrine only related to the mysteries of our religion, 
which it is our duty to receive without investigation or doubt — but 
in things occurring in common life, as God has bestowed reason 
upon us, we cannot act wrong in employing it. But you, my dear 
Minna, have a warmer fancy than mine, and are willing to receive 
all those wonderful stories for truth, because you love to think of 
sorcerers, and dwarfs, and water-spirits, and would like much to 
have a little trow, or fairy, as the Scotch call them, with a green 
coat, and a pair of wings as brilliant as the hues of the starling's 
neck, specially to attend on you." 

" It would spare you at least the trouble of lacing my boddice," 
said Minna, " and of lacing it wrong, too ; for in the heat of your 
argument you have missed two eyelet-holes." 

" That error shall be presently mended," said Brenda ; " and 
then, as one of our friends might say, I will haul tight and belay — 
but you draw your breath so deeply, that it will be a difficult matter.'' 

" I only sighed," said Minna, in some confusion, " to 
soon you can trifle with and ridicule the misfortunes of this extra- 
ordinary woman." 

" I do not ridicule them, God knows ! " replied Brenda, some- 
what angrily ; " it is you, Minna, who turn all I say in truth and 
kindness, to something harsh or wicked. I look on Noma as a 
woman of very extraordinary abilities, which are very often united 
with a strong cast of insanity ; and I consider her as better skilled 
in the signs of the weather than any woman in Zetland. But that 
she has any power over the elements, I no more believe, than I do 
ill the nursery stories of King Erick, who could make the wind 
blow from the point he set his cap to." 

Minna, somewhat nettled with the obstinate incredulity of her 


sister, replied sharply, " And yet, Brenda, this woman — half-mad 
woman, and the veriest impostor — is the person by whom you 
choose to be advised in the matter next your own heart at this 
moment ! " 

" I do not know what you mean," said Brenda, colouring deeply, 
and shifting to get away from her sister. But as she was now 
undergoing the ceremony of being laced in her turn, her sister had 
the means of holding her fast by the silken string with which she 
was fastening the boddice, and, tapping* her on the neck, which 
expressed, by its sudden writhe, and sudden change to a scarlet 
hue, as much pettish confusion as she had desired to provoke, she 
added, more mildly, " Is it not strange, Brenda, that, used as we 
have been by the stranger Mordaunt Mertoun, whose assurance 
has brought him uninvited to a house where his presence is so 
unacceptable, you should still look or think of him with favour ? 
Surely, that you do so should be a proof to you, that there are such 
things as spells in the country, and that you yourself labour under 
them. It is not for nought that Mordaunt wears a chain of elfin 
gold — ^look to it, Brenda, and be wise in time." 

" I have nothing to do with Mordaunt Mertoun," answered 
Brenda, hastily, " nor do I know or care what he or any other 
young man wears about his neck. I could see all the gold chains 
of all the bailies of Edinburgh, that Lady Glowrowrum speaks so 
much of, without falling in fancy with one of the wearers." And, 
having thus complied with the female rule of pleading not guilty 
in general to such an indictment, she immediately resumed, in a 
different tone, " But, to say the truth, Minna, I think you, and all 
of you, have judged far too hastily about this young friend of ours, 
who has been so long our most intimate companion. Mind, Mor- 
daunt Mertoun is no more to me than he is to you — who best 
know how little difference he made betwixt us ; and that, chain or 
no chain, he lived with us like a brother with two sisters ; and yet 
you can turn him off at once, because a wandering seaman, of 
whom we know nothing, and a peddling jagger, whom we do know 
to be a thief, a cheat, and a liar, speak words and carry tales in his 
disfavour ! I do not believe he ever said he could have his choice 
of either of us, and only waited to see which was to have Burgh- 
Westra and Bredness Voe — I do not believe he ever spoke such a 
woi-d, or harboured such a thought, as that of making a choice 
between us." 

" Perhaps," said Minna, coldly, " you may have had reason to 
know that his choice was already determined." 

" I will not endure this ! " said Brenda, giving way to her natural 
vivacity, and springing from between her sister's hands ; then 


turning round and facing her, While her glowing cheek was rivalled 
in the deepness of its crimson, by as much of her neck and bosom 
as the upper part of the half- laced boddice permitted to be visible, 
— " Even from you, Minna," she said, " I will not endure this ! 
You knovif that all my life I have spoken the truth, and that I love 
the truth ; and I tell you that Mordaunt Mertoun never in his life 
made distinction betwixt you and me, until " 

Here some feeling of consciousness stopped her short, and her 
sister replied, with a smile, " Until when, Brenda ? Methinks, your 
love of truth seems choked with the sentence you were bringing out. 

" Until you ceased to do him the justice he deserves," said 
Brenda, firmly, " since I must speak out. I have little doubt that 
he will not long throw away his friendship on you, who hold it so 

" Be it so," said Minna ; " you are secure from my rivalry, either 
in his friendship or love. But bethink you better, Brenda — this 
is no scandal of Cleveland's — Cleveland is incapable of slander — 
no falsehood of Bryce Snailsfoot — not one of our friends or 
acquaintance but says it has been the common talk of the island, 
that the daughters of Magnus Troil were patiently awaiting the 
choice of the nameless and birthless stranger, Mordaunt Mertoun. 
Is it fitting that this should be said of us, the descendants of a 
Norwegian Jarl, and the daughters of the first Udaller in Zet- 
land ? or, would it be modest or maidenly to submit to it unre- 
sented, were we the meanest lasses that ever lifted a milk-pail ? " 

" The tongues of fools are no reproach," replied Brenda, warmly ; 
" I will never quit my own thoughts of an innocent friend for the 
gossip of the island, which can put the worst meaning on the most 
innocent actions." 

" Hear but what our friends say," repeated Minna ; " hear but 
the Lady Glowrowrum ; hear but Maddie and Clara Groatsettar." 

" If I were to hear Lady Glowrowrum," said Brenda, steadily, 
" I should listen to the worst tongue in Zetland ; and as for Maddie 
and Clara Groatsettar, they were both blythe enough to get Mor- 
daunt to sit betwixt them at dinner the day before yesterday, as 
you might have observed yourself, but that your ear was better 

" Your eyes, at least, have been but indifferently engaged, 
Brenda," retorted the eldest sister, " since they vifere fixed on a 
young man, whom all the world but y(5urself believes to have talked 
of us with the most insolent presumption ; and even if he be inno- 
cently charged. Lady Glowrowrum says it is unmaidenly and bold 
of you even to look in the direction where he sits, knowing it must 
confirm such reports." 



" I will look which way I please,'' said Brenda, growing still 
warmer ; " Lady Glowrowrum shall neither rule my thoughts, nor 
my words, nor my eyes. I hold Mordaunt Mertoun to be innocent, 
— I will look at him as such, — I will speak of him as such ; and if 
I did not speak to him also, and behave to him as usual, it is in 
obedience to my father, and not for what Lady Glowrowrum, and 
all her nieces, had she twenty instead of two, could think, wink, 
nod, or tattle, about the matter that concerns them not." 

" Alas ! Brenda," answered Minna, with calmness, " this vivacity 
is more than is required for the defence of the character of a mere 
friend ! — Beware — He who ruined Noma's peace for ever, was a 
stranger, admitted to her affections against the will of her family." 

" He was a stranger," replied Brenda, with emphasis, " not only 
in birth, but in manners. She had not been bred up with him from 
her youth, — she had not known the gentleness, the frankness, of 
his disposition, by an intimacy of many years. He was indeed a 
stranger, in character, temper, birth, manners, and morals, — some 
wandering adventurer, perhaps, whom chance or tempest had 
thrown upon the islands, and who knew how to mask a false heart 
with a frank brow. My good sister, take home your own warning. 
There are other strangers at Burgh-Westra besides this poor Mor- 
daunt Mertoun." 

Minna seemed for a moment overwhelmed with the rapidity with 
which her sister retorted her suspicion and her caution. But her 
natural loftiness of disposition enabled her to reply with assumed 

" Were I to treat you, Brenda, with the want of confidence you 
show towards me, I might reply that Cleveland is no more to me 
than Mordaunt was ; or than young Swartaster, or Lawrence Eric- 
son, or any other favourite guest of my father's, now is. But I 
scorn to deceive you, or to disguise my thoughts. — I love Clement 

" Do not say so, my dearest sister," said Brenda, abandoning at 
once the air of acrimony with which the conversation had been 
latterly conducted, and throwing her arms round her sister's neck, 
with looks, and with a tone, of the most earnest affection, — " do not 
say so, I implore you ! I will renounce Mordaunt Mertoun, — I 
will swear never to speak to him again ; but do not repeat that you 
love this Cleveland ! " 

" And why should I not repeat," said Minna, disengaging hersel! 
gently from her sister's grasp, " a sentiment in which I glory ? The 
boldness, the strength and energy, of his character, to which com- 
mand is natural, and fear unknown, — these very properties, which 
alarm you for my happiness, are the qualities which ensure it. 


Remember, Brenda, that when your foot loved the calm smooth 
sea-beach of the summer sea, mine ever delighted in the summit of 
the precipice, when the waves are in fury." 

" And it is even that which I dread," said Brenda ; " it is even 
that adventurous disposition which now is urging you to the brink 
of a precipice more dangerous than ever was washed by a spring- 
tide. This man, — do not frown, I will say no slander of him, — but 
is he not, even m your own partial judgment, stern and overbear- 
ing ? accustomed, as you say, to command ; but, for that very 
reason, commanding where he has no right to do so, and leading 
whom it would most become him to follow ? rushing on danger, 
rather for its own sake, than for any other object ? And can you 
think of being yoked with a spirit so unsettled and stormy, whose 
life has hitherto been led in scenes of death and peril, and who, 
even while sitting by your side, cannot disguise his impatience 
again to engage in them? A lover, methinks, should love his 
mistress better than his own life ; but yours, my dear Minna, loves 
her less than the pleasure of inflicting death on others." 

" And it is even for that I love him," said Minna. " I am a 
daughter of the old dames of Norway, who could send their lovers 
to battle with a smile, and slay them, with their own hands, if 
they returned with dishonour. My lover must scorn the mockeries 
by which our degraded race strive for distinction, or must practise 
them only in sport, and in earnest of nobler dangers. No whale- 
striking, bird-nesting favourite for me ; my lover must be a Sea- 
king, or what else modern times may give that draws near to that 
lofty character." 

"Alas, my sister !", said Brenda, "it is now that I must in 
earnest begin to beheve the force of spells and of charms. You 
remember the Spanish story which you took from me long since, 
because I said, in your admiration of the chivalry of the olden 
times of Scandinavia, you rivalled the extravagance of the hero.— 
Ah, Minna, your colour shows that your conscience checks you, 
and reminds you of the book I mean ; — is it more wise, think you, 
to mistake a windmill for a giant, or the commander of a paltry 
corsair for a Kiempe, or a Vi-king ? " 

Minna did indeed colour with anger at this insinuation, of which^ 
perhaps, she felt in some degree the truth. 

" You have a right," she said, " to insult me, because you arc 
possessed of my secret." 

Brenda's soft heart could not resist this charge of unkindness ; 
she adjured her sister to pardon her, and the natural gentleness o 
Minna's feeUngs could not resist her entreaties. 

"We are unhappy," she said, as she dried her sister's tears. 


" that we cannot see with the same eyes — let us not make each 
other more so by mutual insult and unkindness. You have my 
secret— it will not, perhaps, long be one, for my father shall have 
the confidence to which he is entitled, so soon as certain circum- 
stances will permit me to offer it. Meantime, I jrepeat, you have 
my secret, and I more than suspect that I have yours in exchange, 
though you refuse to own it." 

" How, Minna ! " said Brenda ; " would you have me acknow- 
ledge for any one such feelings as you allude to, ere he has said 
the least word that could justify such a confession ? " 

" Surely not ; but a hidden fire may be distinguished by heat as 
well as flame." 

"You understand these signs, Minna,'' said Brenda, hanging 
down her head, and in vain endeavouring to suppress the tempta- 
tion to repartee which her sister's remark offered ; " but I can only 
say, that, if ever I love at all, it shall not ,be until I have been 
asked to do so once or twice at least, which has not yet chanced to 
me. But do not let us renew our quarrel, and rather let us think 
why Noma should have told us that horrible tale, and to what she 
expects it should lead." 

" It must have been as a caution," replied Minna — " a caution 
which our situation, and, I will not deny it, which mine in particular, 
might seem to her to call for ; — ^but I am alike strong in my own 
innocence, and in the honour of Cleveland." 

Brenda would fain have replied, that she did not confide "so 
absolutely in the latter security as in the first ; but she was pru- 
dent, and, forbearing to awaken the former painful discussion, only 
replied, " It is strange that Noma should have said nothing more 
of her lover. Surely he could not desert her in the extremity of 
misery to which he had reduced her ? " 

" There may be agonies of distress," said Minna, after a pause, 
" in which the mind is so much jarred, that it ceases to be respon- 
sive even to the feelings which have most engrossed it ; — her sor- 
row for her lover may have been swallowed up in horror and 

" Or he might have fled from the islands, in fear of our father's 
vengeance," replied Brenda. 

" If for fear, or faintness of heart," said Minna, looking upwards, 
" he was capable of flying from the ruin which he had occasioned, 
I trust he has long ere this sustained the punishment which Heaven 
reserves for the most base and dastardly of traitors and of cowards. 
— Come, sister, we are ere this expected at the breakfast board." 

And they went thither, arm in arm, with much more of confi- 
dence than had lately subsisted between them ; the little quarrel 

2d8 the pirate. 

which had taken place having served the purpose of a botirasgue, 
or sudden squall, which dispels mists and vapours, and leaves fair 
weather behind it. 

On their way to the breakfast apartment, they agreed that it was 
unnecessary, and might be imprudent, to communicate to their father 
the circumstance of the nocturhal visit, or to let him observe that 
they now knew more than formerly of the melancholy history of 


But lost to me, for ever lost those joys, 
Which reason scatters, and which time destroys. 
No more the midnight fairy-train I view. 
All in the merry moonlight tippling dew. 
Even the last lingering fiction of the brain, 
The churchyard ghost, is now at rest again. 

The Library. 

The moral bard, from whom we borrow the motto of this chapter, 
has touched a theme with which most readers have some feelings 
that vibrate unconsciously. Superstition, when not arrayed in her 
full horrors, but laying a gentle hand only on her suppliant's head, 
had charms 'which we fail not to regret, even in those stages of 
society from which her influence is wellnigh banished by the light of 
reason and general education. At least, in more ignorant periods, her 
system of ideal terrors had something in them interesting to minds 
which had few means of excitement. This is more especially true 
of those lighter modificatioHS of superstitious feelings and practices 
which mingle in the amusements of the ruder ages, and are, like 
the auguries of Hallow-e'en in Scotland, considered partly as matter 
of merriment, partly as sad and prophetic earnest. And, with 
similar feelings, people even of tolerable education have, in our 
times, sought the cell of a fortune-teller, upon a frolic, as it is 
termed, and yet not always in a disposition absolutely sceptical 
towards the responses they receive. 

When the sisters of Burgh-Westra arrived in the apartment des- 
tined for a breakfast, as ample as that which we have described on 
the preceding morning, and had undergone a jocular rebuke from 
the Udaller for their late attendance, they found the company, 
most of whom had already breakfasted, engaged in an ancient 
Norwegian custom, of the character which we have just described. 


It seems to have been borrowed from those poems of the Scalds, 
in which champions and heroines are so often represented as seeking 
to know their destiny from some sorceress or prophetess, who, as 
in the legend called by Gray the Descent of Odin, awakens by the 
force of Runic rhyme the unwilling revealer of the doom of fate, 
and compels from her answers, often of dubious import, but which 
were then believed to express some shadow of the events of 

An old sibyl, Euphane Fea, the housekeeper we have already men- 
tioned, was installed in the recess of a large window, studiously dark- 
ened by bear-skins and other miscellaneous drapery, so as to give it 
something the appearance of a Laplander's hut, and accommodated, 
like a confessional chair, with an aperture, which permitted the person 
within to hear with ease whatever questions should be put, though 
not to see the querist. Here seated, the voluspa, or sibyl, was to 
listen to the rhythmical enquiries which should be made to her, and 
return an extemporaneous answer. The drapery was supposed to 
prevent her from seeing by what individuals she was consulted, and 
the intended or accidental reference which the answer given under 
such circumstances bore to the situation of the person by whom the 
question was asked, often furnished food for laughter, and some- 
times, as it happened, for more serious reflection. The sibyl was 
usually chosen from her possessing the talent of improvisation in 
the Norse poetry ; no unusual accomplishment, where the minds 
of many were stored with old verses, and where the rules of metrical 
composition are uncommonly simple. The questions were also put 
in verse ; but as this power of extemporaneous composition, though 
common, could not be supposed universal, the medium of an inter- 
preter might be used by any querist, which interpreter, holding the 
consulter of the oracle by the hand, and standing by the plage from 
which the oracles were issued, had the task of rendering into verse 
the subject of enquiry. 

On the present occasion, Claud Halcro was summoned, by tjie 
universal voice, to perform the part of interpreter ; and, after 
shaking his head, and muttering some apology for decay of memory 
and poetical powers, contradicted at once by his own conscious 
smile of confidence and by the general shout of the company, the 
lighthearted old man came forward to play his part in the pro- 
posed entertainment. 

But just as it was about to commence, the arrangement of parts 
was singularly altered. Noma of the Fitful-head, whom every one 
excepting the two sisters believed to be at the distance of many 
miles, suddenly, and without greeting, entered the apartment, 
walked majestically up to the bearskin tabernacle, and signed to 



the female who was there seated to abdicate her sanctuary. The 
old woman came forth, shaking her head, and looking like one 
overwhelmed with fear ;*nor, indeed, were there many in the com- 
pany who saw with absolute composure the sudden appearance of a 
person, so w ell known and so generally dreaded as Noma. 

She paused a moment at the entrance of the tent ; and, as she 
raised the skin which formed the entrance, she looked up to the 
north, as if imploring from that quarter a strain of inspiration ; then 
signing to the surprised guests that they might approach in suc- 
cession the shrine in which she was about to install herself, she 
entered the tent, and was shrouded from their sight. 

But this was a different sport from what the company had 
meditated, and to most of them seemed to present so much more 
of earnest than of game, that there was no alacrity shown to consult 
the oracle. The character and pretensions, of Noma seemed, to 
almost all present, too serious for the part which she had assumed ; 
the men whispered to each other, and the women, according to 
Claud Halcro, realized the description of glorious John Dryden, — 

" With horror shuddering, in a heap they ran." 

The pause was interrupted by the loud manly voice of the 
Udaller. " Why does the game stand still, my masters ? Are you 
afraid because my kinswoman is to play our voluspa ? It is kindly 
done in her, to do for us what none in the isles can do so well ; and 
we will not baulk our sport for it, but rather go on the merrier. 

There was still a pause in the company, and Magnus Troil 
added, " It shall never be said that my kinswoman sat in her bower 
unhalsed, as if she were some of the old mountain-giantesses, and 
all from faint heart. I will speak first myself; but the rhyme 
comes worse from" my tongue than when I was a score of years 
younger. — >Claud Halcro, you must stand by me." 

Hand in hand they approached the shrine of the supposed sibyl, 
and after a moment's consultation together, Halcro thus expressed 
the query of his friend and patron. Now, the Udaller, like many 
persons of consequence in Zetland, who, as Sir -Robert Sibbald 
has testified for them, had begun thus early to apply both to com- 
merce and navigation, was concerned to some extent in the whale 
fishery of the season, and the bard had been directed to put into 
his halting verse an enquiry concerning its success. 

Claud Halcro. 

" Mother darksome, Mother dread- 
Dweller on the Fitful-head, 


Thou canst see what deeds are done 

Under the never-setting sun. 

Look through sleet, and look through frost, 

Look to Greenland's caves and coast, — 

By the iceberg is a sail 

Chasing of the swarthy whale ; 

Mother doubtful, Mother dread. 

Tell us, has the good ship sped ? " 

. The jest seemed to turn to earnest, as all, bending their heads 
around, listened to the voice of Noma, who, without a moment's 
hesitation, answered from the recesses of the tent in which she 
was enclosed : — 


" The thought of the aged is ever on gear, — 
On his fishing, his furrow, his flock, and his steer ; 
But thrive may his fishing, flock, furrow, and herd, 
While the aged for anguish shall tear his grey beard." 

There was a momentary pause, during which Triptolemus had 
time to whisper, "If ten witches and as many warlocks were to 
swear it, I will never believe that a decent man will either fash 
"his beard or himself about any thing, so long as stock and crop 
goes as it should do." 

But the voice from within the tent resumed its low monoton- 
ous tone of recitation^ and, interrupting farther commentary, 
proceeded as follows ;— 


" The ship, well-laden as bark need be. 

Lies deep in the furrow of the Iceland sea ; — 

The breeze for Zetland blows fair and soft. 

And gaily the garland "' is fluttering aloft : 

Seven good fishes have spouted their last. 

And their jaw-bones are hanging to yard and mast ; * 

Two are for Lerwick, and two for Kirkwall, — 

And three for Burgh- Westra, the choicest of all." 

" Now the powers above look down and protect us ! " said 
Bryce Snailsfoot ; " for it is mair than woman's wit that has spaed 
out that ferly. I saw them at North Ronaldshaw, that had seen 
the good bark, the Olave of Lerwick, that our worthy patron has 
such a great share in that she may be called his own in a 
manner, and they had broomed * the ship, and, as sure as there 

V 2 


are stars in heaven, she answered them for seven fish, exact as 
Noma has telled us in her rhyme !" 

"Umph— seven fish exactly? and you heard it at North Ron- 
aldshaw?" said Captain Cleveland, "and I suppose told it as a 
good piece of news when you came hither ? " 

" It never crossed my tongue, Captain,'' answered the pedlar ; 
" I have kend mony chapmen, travelling merchants, and such 
like, neglect their goods to carry clashes and clavers up and down, 
from one countryside to another ; but that is no traffic of mine. 
I dinna believe I have mentioned the Olave's having made up 
her cargo to three folks since I crossed to Dunrossness." 

" But if one of those three had spoken the news over again, 
and it is two to one that such a thing happened, the old lady 
prophesies upon velvet." 

Such was the speech of Cleveland, addressed to Magnus Troil, 
and heard without any applause. The Udaller's respect for his 
country extended to its superstitions, and so did the interest which 
he took in his unfortunate kinswoman. If he never rendered a 
precise assent to her high supernatural pretensions, he was not at 
least desirous of hearing them disputed by others. 

"Noma," he said, "his cousin," (an emphasis on the word,) 
" held no communication with Bryce Snailsfoot, or his acquaint- 
ances. He did not pretend to explain how she came by her infor- 
mation ; but he had always remarked that Scotsmen, and indeed 
strangers in general, when they, came to Zetland, were ready to 
find reasons for things which remained sufficiently obscure to those 
whose ancestors had dwelt there for ages." 

Captain Cleveland took the hint, and bowed, without attempting 
to defend his own scepticism. 

" And now forward, my brave hearts," said the Udaller ; " and 
may all have as good tidings as I have ! Three whales cannot but 
yield — let me think how many hogsheads " 

There was an obvious reluctance on the part of the guests to be 
the next in consulting the oracle of the tent. 

" Gude news are welcome to some folks, if they came frae the 
deil himsell," said Mistress Baby Yellowley, addressing the Lady 
Glowrowrum, — for a similarity of disposition in some respects had 
made a sort of intimacy betwixt them — " but I think, my leddy, 
that this has ower mickle of rank witchcraft in it to have the 
countenance of douce Christian folks like you and me, my leddy." 

" There may be something in what you say, my dame," replied 
the good Lady Glowrowrum ; " but we Hialtlanders are no just like 
other folks ; and this woman, if she be a witch, being the Fowd's 
friend and near kinswoman, it will be ill taen if we hacna our 


fortunes spaed like a' the rest of them ; and sae my nieces may 
e'en step forward in their turn, and nae harm dune. They will hae 
time to repent, ye ken, in the course of nature, if there be ony 
thing wrang in it, Mistress Yellowley." 

While others remained under similar uncertainty and apprehen- 
sion, Halcro, who saw by the knitting of the old Udaller's brows, 
and by a certain impatient shuffle of his right foot, like the motion, 
of a man who with difficulty refrains from stamping, that his 
patience began to wax rather thin, gallantly declared, that he him- 
self would, in his own person, and not as a procurator for others, 
put the next query to the Pythoness. He paused a minute — 
collected his rhymes, and thus addressed her : 

Claud Halcro. 

" Mother doubtful, Mother dread, 
Dweller of the Fitful-head, 
Thou hast conn'd full many a rhyme, 
That lives upon the surge of time : 
Tell me, shall my lays be sung. 
Like Hacon's of the golden tongue. 
Long after Halcro's dead and gone ? 
Or, shall Hialtland's minstrel own 
One note to rival glorious John ?" 

The voice of the sibyl immediately replied, from her sanctuary, 


" The infant loves the rattle's noise ; 
Age, double childhood, hath its toys ; 
But different far the descant rings. 
As strikes a different hand the strings. 
The eagle mounts the polar sky — 
The Imber-goose, unskill'd to fly, 
Must be content to glide along, 
Where seal and sea-dog list his song.'' 

Halcro bit his lip, shrugged his shoulders, and then, instantly 
recovering his good-humour, and the ready, though slovenly power 
of extemporaneous composition, with which long habit had invested 
him, he gallantly rejoined, 

Claud Halcro. 

" Be mine the Imber-goose to play, 
And haunt lone cave and silent bay ; — 


The archer's aim so shall I shun — 
So shall I 'scape the levell'd gua — 
Content my verse's tuneless jingle, 
With Thule's soundihg tides to mingle, 
While, to the ear of wandering wight, 
Upon the distant headland's height, 
Soften'd by murmur of the sea, 
The rude sounds seem like harmony ! " 

As the little b^rd stepped back, with an alert gait, and satisfied 
air, general applause followed the spirited manner in which he had 
acquiesced in the doom which levelled him with an Imber-goose. 
But his resigned and courageous submission did not even yet 
encourage any other person to consult the redoubted Noma. 

" The coward fools ! " said the Udaller. " Are you too afraid, 
Captain Cleveland, to speak to an old woman? — Ask her any thing 
— ask her whether the twelve-gun sloop at Kirkwall be your consort 
or no." 

Cleveland looked at Minna, and probably conceiving that she 
watched with anxiety his answer to her father's question, he col- 
lected himself, after a moment's hesitation. 

" I never was afraid of man or woman. — Master Halcro, you 
have heard the question which our host desires me to ask — put it 
in my name, and in your own way — I pretend to as little skill in 
poetry as I do in witchcraft." 

Halcro did not wait to be invited twice, but, grasping Captain 
Cleveland's hand in his, according to the form which the game 
prescribed, he put the query which the Udaller had dictated to the 
stranger, in the following words : — 

Claud Halcro. 

" Mother doubtful. Mother dread. 

Dweller of the Fitful-head, 

A gallant bark from far abroad, 

Saint Magnus hath her in his road, 

With guns and firelocks not a few — 

A silken and a scarlet crew, 

Deep stored with precious merchandise. 

Of gold, and goods of rare device — 

What interest hath our comrade bold 

In bark and crew, in goods and gold ? " 

There was a pause of unusual duration ere the oracle would 
return any answer ; and when sh? i-^Dlied, it was in a lower, though 


an equally decided tone, with that which she had hitherto em- 
ployed : — 


" Gold is ruddy, fair, and free, 

Blood is crimson, and dark to see ; — 

I look'd out on Saint Magnus Bay, 

And I saw a falcon that struck her prey. — 

A gobbet of flesh in her beak she bore, 

And talons and singles are dripping with gore ; 

Let him that asks after them look on his hand, 

And if there is blood on't, he's one of their band." 

Cleveland smiled scornfully, and held out his hand,— " Few men 
have been on the Spanish main as often as I have, without having 
had to do with the Guarda Castas once and again ; but there never 
was aught like a stain on my hand that a wet towel would not 
wipe away." 

The Udaller added his voice potential — " There is never peace 
with Spaniards beyond the Line, — I have heard Captain Tragen- 
deck and honest old Commodore Rummelaer say so an hundred 
times, and they have both been down in the Bay of Honduras, and 
all thereabouts. — I hate all Spaniards, since they came here and 
reft the Fair Isle men of their vivers in 1558.* I have heard my 
grandfather speak of it ; and there is an old Dutch history some- 
where about the house, that shows what work they made in the 
Low Countries long since. There is neither mercy nor faith in 

"True — true, my old friend," said Cleveland; "they are as 
jealous of their Indian possessions as an old man of his young 
bride ; and if they can catch you at disadvantage, the mines for 
your life is the word, — and so we fight them with our colours nailed 
to the mast." . ' • 

"That is the way," shouted the Udaller ; "the old British Jack 
should never down ! When I think of the wooden walls, I almost 
think myself an Englishman, only it would be becoming too like 
my Scottish neighbours ; — but come, no offence to any here, gen- 
tlemen — all are friends, and all are welcome. Come, Brenda, go 
on with the play — do you speak next, you have Norse rhymes 
enough, we all know." 

" But none that suit the game we play at, father," said Brenda, 
drawing back. 

" Nonsense ! " s?iid her father, pushing her onward, while Halcro 
seized on her reluctant hand ; " never let mistimed modesty mar 


honest mirth— Speak for Brenda, Halcro— it is your trade to inter- 
pret maidens' thoughts." 

The poet bowed to the beautiful young woman, with the devotion 
of a poet and the gallantry of a travelleri and having, in a whisper, 
reminded her that she was in no way responsible for the nonsense 
he was about to speak, he paused, looked upward, simpered as if 
he had caught a sudden idea, and at length set off in the following 
verses : 

Claud Halcro. 

" Mother doubtful, kother dread- 
Dweller of the Fitful-head, 
Well thou know'st it is thy task 
To tell what beauty will not ask ; 
Then steep thy words in wine and milk. 
And weave a doom of gold and silk, — 
For we would know, shall Brenda prove 
In love, and happy in Irer love ? " 

The prophetess replied almost immediately from behind her 
curtain : — 


" Untouch'd by love, the maiden's breast 

Is like the snow on Rona's crest, 

High seated in the ihiddle sky, 

In bright and barren purity ; 

But by the sunbeam gently kiss'd. 

Scarce by the gazing eye 'tis miss'd. 

Ere down the lonely valley stealing. 

Fresh grass and growth its course revealing, 

It cheers the flock, revives the flower. 

And decks some happy shepherd's bower." 

" A comfortable doctrine, and piost justly spoken," said the 
Udaller, seizing the blushing Brenda, as she was endeavouring to 
escape — " Never think shame for the matter, my girl. To be the 
mistress of some honest man's house, and the means of maintain- 
ing some old Norse name, making neighbours happy, the poor 
easy, and relieving strangers, is the most creditable lot a young 
woman can look to, and I heartily wish it to all here. — Come, who 
speaks next? — good husbands are going — Maddie Groatsettar — 
my pretty Clara, come and have your share." 

The Lady Glowrowrum shook her head, and " could not," she 
said, "altogether approve" 

" Enough said — enough said," replied Magnus ; " no compul- 


sion ; but the play shall go on till we are tired of it. Here, Minna— 
I have got you at command. Stand forth, my girl— there are plenty 
of things to be ashamed of besides old-fashioned and innocent 
pleasantry. — Come, I will speak for you myself— though I am not 
sure I can remember rhyme enough for it." 

There was a slight colour which passed rapidly over Minna's 
face, but she instantly regained her composure, and stood erect by 
her father, as one superior to any little jest to which her situation 
might give rise. 

Her father, after some rubbing of his brow, and other mechanical 
efforts to assist his memory, at length recovered verse sufficient to 
put the following query, though in less gallant strains than those of 
Halcro : — 

Magnus Troil. 

" Mother, speak, and do not tarry. 
Here's a maiden fain would marry. 
Shall she marry, ay or not .■' 
If she marry, what's her lot ? " 

A deep sigh was uttered within the tabernacle of the soothsayer, 
as if she compassionated the subject of the doom which she 
was obliged to pronounce. She then, as usual, returned her 
response : — 


" Untouch'd by love, the maiden's breast 
Is like the snow on Rona's crest ; 
So pure, so free from earthly dye, 
It seems, whilst leaning on the sky. 
Part of the heaven to which 'tis nigh ; 
But passion, like the wild March rain, 
May soil the wreath with many a stain. 
We gaze — the lovely vision's gone — 
A torrent fills the bed of stone, 
That, hurrying to destruction's shock, 
Leaps headlong from the lofty rock." 

The Udaller heard this reply with high resentment. " By the 
bones of the Martyr," he said, his bold visage becoming suddenly 
ruddy, " this is an abuse of courtesy ! and, were it any but yourself 
that had classed my daughter's name and the word destruction 
together, they had better have left the word unspoken. But come 
forth of the tent, thou old galdragon," * he added, with a smile— 
" I should have known that thou canst not long joy in any thing 


that smacks of mirth, God help thee ! " His summons received 
no answer ; and, after waiting a moment, he again addressed her 
— " Nay, never be sullen with me, kinswoman, though I did speak 
a hasty word — thou knowest I bear malice to no one, least of all 
to thee — so come forth, and let us shake hands.^-Thou mightst 
have foretold the wreck of my ship and boats, or a bad herring- 
fisherj', and I should have said never a word ; but Minna or 
Brenda, you know, are things which touch me nearer. But come 
out, shake hands, and there let there be an end' on't." 

Noma returned no answer whatever to his repeated invocations, 
and the company began to look upon each other with some surprise, 
when the Udaller, raising the skin which covered the entrance of 
the tent, discovered that the interior was empty. The wonder was 
now general, and not unmixed with fear ; for it seemed impossible 
that Noma could have, in any manner, escaped from the tabernacle 
in which she was enclosed, without having been discovered by the 
company. Gone, however, she was, and the Udallar, after a 
moment's consideration, dropt the skin-curtain again over the 
entrance of the tent. 

" My friends," he said, with a cheerful countenance, " we have 
long known my kinswoman, and that her ways are not like those 
of the ordinary folks of this world. But she means well by Hialt- 
land, and hath the love of a sister for me, and for my house ; and 
no guest of mine needs either to fear evil, or to take offence at her 
hand. I have little doubt she will be with us at dinner-time." 

" Now, Heaven forbid ! " said Mrs. ^aby Yellowley — " for, my 
gude Leddy Glowrowrum, to tell your leddyship the truth, I likena 
cummers that can cum and gae like a glance of the sun, or the 
whisk of a whirlwind." 

" Speak lower, speak lower," said the Lady Glowrowrum, " and 
be thankful that yon carlin hasna taen the liouse-side away wi' 
her. The like of her have played warse pranks, and so has she 
hersell, unless she is the sairer lied on." 

Similar murmurs ran through the rest of the company, until the 
Udaller uplifted his stentorian and imperative voice to put them to 
silence, and invited, or rather commanded, the attendance of his 
guests to behold the boats set off for the haaf or deep-sea fishing. 

" The wind has been high since sunrise," he said, " and had kept 
the boats in the bay ; but now it was favourable, and they would 
sail immediately." 

This sudden alteration of the weather occasioned sundry nods 
and winks amongst the guests, who were not indisposed to connect 
it with Noma's sudden disappearance ; but without giving vent to 
observations which could not but be disagreeable to their host. 


they followed his stately step to the shore, as the herd of deer 
follows the leading stag, with aU manner of respectful ob- 


There was a laughing devil in his sneer, 
That raised emotions both of rage and fear ; 
And where his frown of hatred darkly fell, 
Hope withering fled — and Mercy sigh'd farewell. 

The Corsair, Canto I. 

The ling or white fishery is the principal employment of the 
natives of Zetland, and was formerly that upon which the gentry 
chiefly depended for their income, and the poor for their subsistence. 
The fishing season is therefore, like the harvest of an agricultural 
country, the busiest and most important, as well as the most 
animating, period of the year. 

The fishermen of each district assemble at particular stations, 
with their boats and crews, and erect upon the shore small huts, 
composed of shingle and covered with turf, for their temporary 
lodging, and skeos, or drying-houses, for the fish ; so that the lonely 
beach at once assumes the appearance of an Indian town. The 
banks to which they repair for the Haaf fishing, are often many 
miles distant from the station where the fish is dried ; so that they 
are always twenty or thirty hours absent, frequently longer ; and 
under unfavourable circumstances of wind and tide, they remain at 
sea, with a very small stock of provisions, and in a boat of a con- 
struction which seems extremely slender, for two or three days, and 
are sometimes heard of no more. The departure of the fishers, 
therefore, on this occupation, has in it a character of danger and 
of suffering, which renders it dignified, and the anxiety of the 
females who remain on the beach, watching the departure of the 
lessening boat, or anxiously looking out for its return gives pathos 
to the scene.* 

The scene, therefore, was in busy and anxious animation, when 
the Udaller and his friends appeared on the beach. The various 
crews of about thirty boats, amounting each to from three to five or 
six men, were taking leave of their wives and female relatives, and 
jumping on board their long Norway skiffs, where their lines and 
tackle lay ready stowed. Magnus was not an idle spectator of the 
scene ; he went from one place to another, enquiring into the state 


of their provisions for the voyage, and their preparations for the 
fishing— now and then, with a rough Dutch or Norse oath, abusing 
them for blockheads, for going to sea with their boats indifferently 
found, but always ending by ordering from his own stores a gallon of 
gin, a hspund of meal, or some similar essential addition to their 
sea-stores. The hardy sailors, on receiving siich favours, expressed 
their thanks in the brief gruff manner which their landlord best 
approved ; but the women were more clamorous in their gratitude, 
which Magnus was often obliged to silence by cursing all female 
tongues from Eve's downwards. 

At length all were on board and ready, the sails were hoisted, 
the signal for departure given, the rowers began to pull, and all 
started from the shore, in strong emulation to get first to the fishing 
ground, and to have their lines set before the rest ; an exploit to 
which no little consequence was attached by the boat's crew who 
should be happy enough to perform it. 

While they were yet within hearing of the shore, they chanted an 
ancient Norse ditty, appropriate to the occasion, of which Claud 
Halcro had executed the following literal translation ; — 

" Farewell, merry maidens, to song, and to laugh, 
For the brave lads of Westra are bound to the Haaf ; 
And we must have labour, and hunger, and pain. 
Ere we dance with the maids of Dunrossness again. 

" For now, in our trim boats of Noroway deal. 

We must dance on the waves, with the porpoise and seal ; 

The breeze it shall pipe, so it pipe not too high, 

And the gull be our songstress whene'er she flits by. 

" Sing on, my brave bird, while we follow, like thee. 
By bank, shoal, and quicksand, the swarms of the sea ; 
And when twenty score fishes are straining our line, 
Sing louder, brave bird, for their spoils shall be thine. 

" We'll sing while we bait, and we'll sing when we haul, 
For the deeps of the Haaf have enough for us all : 
There is torsk for the gentle, and skate for the carle, 
And there's wealth for bold Magnus, the son of the earl. 

" Huzza ! my brave comrades, give way for the Haaf, 
We shall sooner come back to the dance and the laugh ; 
For life without mirth is a lamp without oil ; 
Then, mirth and long life to the bold Magnus Troil ! " 


The rude words of the song were soon drowned in the ripple of 
tne waves, but the tune continued long to mingle with the sound of 
wind and sea, and the boats were like so many black specks on the 
surface of the ocean, diminishing by degrees as they bore far and 
farther seaward ; while the ear could distinguish touches of the 
human voice, almost drowned amid that of the elements. 

The fishermen's wives looked their last after the parting sails, 
and were now departing slowly, with downcast and anxious looks, 
towards the huts in which they were to make arrangements for pre- 
paring and drying the fish, with which they hoped to see their 
ilusbands and friends return deeply laden. Here and there an 
old sibyl displayed the superior importance of her experience, by 
predicting, from the appearance of the atmosphere, that the wind 
would be fair or foul, while others recommended a vow to the Kirk 
of St. Ninian's for the safety of their men and boats, (an ancient 
Catholic superstition, not yet wholly abolished,) and others, but in 
a low and timorous tone, regretted to their companions, that Noma 
of Fitful-head had been suffered to depart in discontent that 
morning from Burgh- Westra, " and, of all days in the year, that 
they suld have contrived to give her displeasure on the first day of 
the white fishing ! " 

The gentry, guests of Magnus Troil, having whiled away as much 
time as could be so disposed of, in viewing the little armament set 
sail, and in conversing with the poor women who had seen their 
friends embark in it, began now to separate into various groups 
and parties, which strolled in different directions, as fancy led them, 
to enjoy'whatmaybe called the clair-obscure of a Zetland summer, 
day, which, though without the brilliant sunshine that cheers other 
countries during the fine season, has a mild and pleasing character 
of its own, that softens while it saddens landscapes, which, in their 
own lonely, bare, and monotonous tone, have something in them 
stern as well as barren. 

In one of the loneliest recesses of the coast, where a deep in- 
denture of the rocks gave the tide access to the cavern, or, as it is 
called, the Helyer, of Swartaster, Minna Troil was walking with 
Captain Cleveland. They had probably chosen that walk, as being 
little liable to interruption from others ; for, as the force of the tide 
rendered the place unfit either for fishing or sailing, so it was not 
the ordinary resort of walkers, on account of its being the siipposed 
habitation of a Mermaid, a race which Norwegian superstition in- 
vests with magical, as well as mischievous qualities. Here, there- 
fore, Minna wandered with her lover. 

A small spot of milk-white sand, that stretched beneath one of 
the precipices which walled in the creek on either side, afforded 


them space for a dry, firm, and pleasant walk of about an hundred 
yards, terminated at one extremity by a dark stretch of the bay, 
which, scarce touched by the wind, seemed almost as smooth as 
glass, aiid which was seen from between two lofty rocks, the jaws 
of the creek, or indenture, that approached each other above, as if 
they wished to meet over the dark tide that separated them. The 
other end of their promenade was closed by a lofty and almost un- 
scaleable precipice, the abode of hundreds of sea-fowl of different 
kinds, in the bottom of which the huge helyer, or sea-cave, itself 
yawned, as if for the purpose of swallowing up the advancing tide, 
which it seemed to receive into an abyss of immeasurable depth- 
and extent. The entrance to this dismal cavern consisted not in 
a single arch, as usual, but was divided into two, by a huge pillar 
of natural rock, which, rising out of the sea, and extending to the 
top of the cavern, seemed to lend its support to the roof, and thus 
formed a double portal to the helyer, on which the fishermen and 
peasants had bestowed the rude name of the Devil's Nostrils. In 
this wild scene, lonely and undisturbed but by the clang of the sea- 
fowl, Cleveland had already met with Minna Troil more than once ; 
for with her it was a favourite walk, as the objects which it presented 
agreed peculiarly with the love of the wild, the melancholy, and the 
wonderful. But now the conversation in which she was earnestly 
engaged, was such as entirely to withdraw her attention, as well as 
that of her companion, from the scenery around them. 

" You cannot deny it," she said ; " you have given way to feelings 
respecting this yourig man, which indicate prejudice and violence, — 
the prejudice unmerited, as far as you are concerned at least, and 
the violence equally imprudent and unjustifiable." 

" I should have thought," replied Cleveland, " that the service I 
rendered him yesterday might have freed me from such a charge. 
I do not talk of my own risk, for I have lived in danger, and love it ; 
it is not every one, however, would have ventured so near the 
furious animal to save one with whom they had no connexion." 

" It is not every one, indeed, who could have saved him," 
answered Minna, gravely ; " but every one who has courage and 
generosity would have attempted it. The giddy-brained Claud 
Halcro would have done as much as you, had his strength been 
equal to his courage, — my father would have done as much, though 
having such just cause of resentment against the young man, for 
his vain and braggart abuse of our hospitality. Do not, therefore, 
boast of your exploit too much, my good friend, lest you should make 
me think that it required too great an effort. I know you love not 
Mordaunt Mertoun, though you exposed your own life to save his." 

" Will you allow nothing, then," said Cleveland, " for the long 


misery I was made to endure from the common and prevailing 
report, that this beardless bird-hunter stood betwixt me a,nd what I 
on earth coveted most — the affections of Minna Troil ? " 

He spoke in a tone at once impassioned and insinuating, and his 
whole language and manner seemed to express a grace and elegance, 
which formed the most striking contrast with the speech and 
gesture of the unpolished seaman, which he usually affected or 
exhibited. But his apology was unsatisfactory to Minna. 

" You have known," she said, " perhaps too soon, and loo well, 
how little you had to fear, — if you indeed feared, — that Mertoun, 
or any other, had interest with Minna Troil. — Nay, truce to thanks 
and protestations ; I would accept it as the best proof of gratitude, 
that you would be reconciled with this youth, or at least avoid every 
quarrel with him." 

" That we stould be friends, Minna, is impossible," replied Cleve- 
land ; " even the love I bear you, the most powerful emotion that 
my heart ever knew, cannot work that miracle." 

" And why, I pray you ? " said Minna ; " there have been no evil 
offences between you, but rather an exchange of mutual services ; 
why can you not be friends .' — I have many reasons to wish it." 

" And can you, then, forget the slights which he has cast upon 
Brenda, and, on yourself, and on your father's house ? " 

" I can forgive them all," said Minna ; — " can you not say so 
much, who have in truth received no offence ? " 

Cleveland looked down, and paused for an instant ; then raised 
his head and replied, " I might easily deceive you, Minna, and 
promise you what my soul tells me is an im'possiljility ; but I am 
forced to use too much deceit with others, and with you I will use 
none. I cannot be friend to this young man ;^-there is a natural 
dislike — an instinctive aversion — something like a principle of re- 
pulsion in our mutual nature, which makes us odious to each other. 
Ask himself — he will tell you he has the same antipathy against me. 
The obligation he conferred on me was a bridle to my resentment ; 
but I was so galled by the restraint, that I could have gnawed the 
curb till my lips were bloody." 

" You have worn what you are wont to call your iron mask so 
long, that your features," replied Minna, " retain the impression of 
its rigidity even when it is removed." 

" You do me injustice, Minna," replied her lover, " and you are 
angry with me because I deal with you plainly and honestly. 
Plainly and honestly, however, will I say, that I cannot be Mertoun's 
friend, but it shall be his own fault, not mine, if I am ever his enemy. 
I seek not to injure him ; but do not ask me to love him. And of 
this remain satisfied, that it would be vain even if I could do so ; 


for as sure as I attempted any advances towards his confidence, so 
sure would I be to awaken his disgust and suspicion. Leave us to 
the exercise of our natural feelings, which, as they will unquestion- 
ably keep us as far separate as possible, are most likely to prevent 
any possible interference with each other. — Does this satisfy 

" It must," said Minna, " since you tell me there is no remedy.— 
And now tell me why you looked so grave when you heard of your 
consort's arrival, — for that it is her I have no doubt,— in the port of 

" I fear," replied Cleveland, " the consequences of that vessel's 
arrival with her crew, as comprehending the ruin of my fondest 
hopes. I had made some progress in your father's favour, and, 
with time, might have made more, when hither come Hawkins and 
the rest to blight my prospects for ever. I told you on what terms 
we parted. I then commanded a vessel braver and better found 
than their own, with a crew who, at my slightest nod, would have 
faced fiends armed with their own fiery element ; but I now stand 
alone, a single man, destitute of all means to overawe or to restrain 
them ; and they will soon show so plainly the ungovernable license 
of their habits and dispositions, that ruin to themselves and to me 
will in all probabiUty be the consequence." 

" Do not fear it," said Minna ; " my father can never be so 
unjust as to hold you liable for the offences of others." 

" But what will Magnus Troil say to my own demerits, fair 
Minna?" said Cleveland, smiling. 

" My father is a Zetlander, or rather a Norwegian," said Minna, 
" one of an oppressed race, who will not care whether you fought 
against the Spaniards, who are the tyrants of the New World, or 
against the Dutch and English, who have succeeded to their 
usurped dominions. His own ancestors supported and exercised 
the freedom of the seas in those gallant barks, whose pennons were 
the dread of all Europe." 

" I fear, nevertheless,'' said Cleveland, " that the descendant of 
an ancient Sea-King will scarce acknowledge a fitting acquaintance 
in a modern rover. I have not disguised from you that I have 
reason to dread the English laws ; and Magnus, though a great 
enemy to taxes, imposts, scat, wattle, and so forth, has no idea of 
latitude upon points of a more general character; — he would willingly 
reeve a rope to the yard-arm for the benefit of an unfortunate 

" Do not suppose so," said Minna ; " he himself suffers too much 
oppression from the tyrannical laws of our proud neighbours of 
Scotland. I trust he will soon bo able to rise in resistance against 


them." The enemy — such I will call them — are now divided amongst 
themselves, and every vessel from their coast brings intelligence of 
fresh commotions — the Highlands against the Lowlands — the 
Williamites against the Jacobites — the Whigs against the Tories, 
and, to sum the whole, the kingdom of England against that of 
Scotland. What is there, as Claud Halcro well hinted, to prevent 
our avaihng ourselves of the quarrels of these robbers, to assert the 
independence of which we are deprived ? " , 

" To hoist the raven standard on the Castle of Scalloway," said 
Cleveland, in imitation of her tone and manner, " and proclaim 
your father Earl Magnus the First ?" 

" Earl Magnus the Seventh, if it please you," answered Minna ; 
" for six of his ancestors have worn, or were entitled to wear, the 
coronet before him. — You laugh at my ardour, — but what is there 
to prevent all this ?" 

" Nothing will prevent it," replied Cleveland, " because it will 
never be attempted — Anything might prevent it, that is equal in 
strength to the long-boat of a British man-of-war." 

" You treat us with scorn, sir," said Minna ; " yet yourself should 
know what a few resolved men may perform." 

" But they must be armed, Minna," replied Cleveland, " and 
willing to place their lives upon each desperate adventure. — Think 
not of such visions. Denmark has been cut down into a second- 
rate kingdom, incapable of exchanging a single broad-side with 
England ; Norway is a starving wilderness ; and, in these islands, 
the love of independence has been suppressed by a long term of 
subjection, or shows itself but in a few muttered growls over the 
bowl and bottle. And, were your men as willing warriors as their 
ancestors, what could the unarmed crews of a few fishing-boats do 
against the British navy ? — Think no more of it, sweet Minna — it is 
a dream, and I must term it so, though it makes your eye so bright, 
and your step so noble." 

" It is indeed a dream ! " said Minna, looking down, " and it ill 
becomes a daughter of Hialtland to look or to move like a free- 
woman — Our eye should be on the ground, and our step slow and 
reluctant, as that of one who obeys a taskmaster." 

" There are lands," said Cleveland, " in which the eye may look 
bright upon groves of the palm and the cocoa, and where the foot 
may move light as a galley under sail, over fields carpeted with 
flowers, and savannahs surrounded by aromatic thickets, and where 
subjection is unknown, except that of the brave to the bravest, and 
of all to the most beautiful." 

Minna paused a moment ere she spoke, and then answered, 
"No, Cleveland. My own rude country has charms for me, even 


desolate as you think it, and depressed as it surely is, which no 
other land on earth can offer to me. I endeavour in vain to 
represent to myself those visions of trees, and of groves, which my 
eye never saw ; but my imagination can conceive no sight in nature 
more sublime than these waves, when agitated by a storm, or more 
beautiful, than when they come, as they now do, rolling in calm 
tranquillity to the shore. Not the fairest scene in a foreign land,— 
not the brightest sunbeam that ever shonS upon the richest land- 
scape, would win my thoughts for a moment from that lofty rock, 
misty hill, and wide-rolling ocean. Hialtland is the land of my 
deceased ancestors, and of my living father ; and in Hialtland will 
I live and die." 

" Then in Hialtland," answered Cleveland, " will I too live and 
die. I will not go to Kirkwall, — I will not make my existence 
known to my comrades, from whom it were else hard for me to 
escape. Your father loves me, Minna ; who knows whether long 
attention, anxious care, might not bring him to receive me into his 
family ? Who would regard the length of a voyage that was certain 
to terminate in happiness ? " ' 

" Dream not of such an issue," said Minna ; " it is impossible. 
While you live in my father's house, — while you receive his 
assistance, and share his table, you will find him the generous 
friend, and the hearty host ; but touch him on what concerns his 
name and family, and the frank-hearted Udaller will start up before 
you the haughty and proud descendant of a Norwegian Jarl. See 
you, — a moment's suspicion has fallen on Mordaunt Mertoun, and 
he has banished from his favour the youth whom he so lately loved 
as a son. No one must ally with his house that is not of untainted 
northern descent." 

" And mine may be so, for aught that is known to me upon the 
subject," said Cleveland. 

" How ! " said Minna ; " have you any reason to believe yourself 
of Norse descent ? " 

" I have told you before,'' replied Cleveland, " that my family is 
totally unknown to me. I spent my earliest days upon a solitary 
plantation in the little island of Tortuga, under the charge of my 
father, then a different person from what he afterwards became. 
We were plundered by the Spaniards, and reduced to such 
extremity of poverty, that my father, in desperation, and in thirst 
of revenge, took up arms, and having become chief of a little band, 
who were in the same circumstances, became a buccanier, as it is 
called, and cruized against Spain, with various vicissitudes of good 
and bad fortune, until, while he interfered to check some violence 
of his companions, he fell by their hands— no uncommon fate among 


the captains of these rovers. But whence my father came, or what 
was the place of his birth, I know not, fair Minna, nor have I ever 
had a curious thought on the subject." 

" He was a Briton, at least, your unfortunate father ? " said 

" I have no doubt of it," said Cleveland ; " his name, which I 
have rendered too formidable to be openly spoken, is an English 
one ; and his acquaintance with the English language, and even 
with English literature, together with the pains which he took, in 
better days, to teach me both, plainly spoke him to be an English- 
man. If the rude bearing which I display towards others is not the 
genuine character of my mind and manners, it is to my father, 
Minna, that I owe any share of better thoughts and principles, 
which may render me worthy, in Some small degree, of your notice 
aud approbation. And yet it sometimes seems to me, that I have 
two different characters ; for I cannot bring myself to believe, that 
I, who now walk this lone beach with the lovely Minna Troil, and 
am permitted to speak to her of the passion which I have cherished, 
have ever been the daring leader of the bold band whose name was 
as terrible as a tornado." 

" You had not been permitted," said Minna, " to use that bold 
language towards the daughter of Magnus Toil, had you not been 
the brave and undaunted leader, who, with so small means, has 
made his name so formidable. My heart is like that of a maiden 
of the ancient days, and is to be won, not by fair words, but by 
gallant deeds." 

" Alas ! that heart," said Cleveland ; " and what is it that I may 
do — what is it that man can do, to win in it the interest which I 
desire ? " 

" Rejoin your friends — pursue your fortunes — ^leave the rest to 
destiny," said Minna. " Should you return, the leader of a gallant 
fleet, who can tell what may befall ? " 

" And what shall assure me, that, when I return — if return I ever 
shall — I may not find Minna Troil a bride or a spouse?— No, 
Minna, I will not trust to destiny the only object worth attaining, 
which my stormy voyage in life has yet offered me." 

" Hear me," said Minna. " I will bind myself to you, if you dare 
accept such an engagement, by the promise of Odin,* the most 
sacred of our northern rites which are yet practised among us, that 
I will never favour another, until you resign the pretensions which 
I have given to you. — Will that satisfy you ? — for more I cannot — 
more I will not give." 

" Then with that," said Cleveland, after a moment's pause, " I 
must perforce be satisfied ; — ^but remember, it is yourself that throw 


me back upon a mode of life which the laws of Britain denounce as 
criminal, and which the violent passions of the daring men by 
whom it is pursued, have rendered infamous." 

"But I," said Minna, "am superior to such prejudices. In 
warring with England, I see their laws in no other light than as if 
you were engaged with an enemy, who, in fulness of pride and 
power, has declared he will give his antagonist no quarter. A 
brave man will not fight the worse for this ; — and, for the manners 
of your comrades, so that they do not infect your own, why should 
their evil report attach to you ? " 

Cleveland gazed at her as she spoke, with a degree of wondering 
admiration, in which, at the same time, there lurked a smile at her 

" I could not," he said, " have believed, that such high courage 
could have been found united with such ignorance of the world, as 
the world is now wielded. For my manners, they who best know 
me will readily allow, that I have done my best, at the risk of my 
popularity, and of my life itself, to mitigate the ferocity of my mates ; 
but how can you teach humanity to men burning with vengeance 
against the world by whom they are proscribed, or teach them 
temperance and moderation in enjoying the pleasures which chance 
throws in their way, to vary a life which would be otherwise one 
constant scene of peril and hardship ? — But this promise, Minna — 
this promise, which is all I am to receive in guerdon for my faithful 
attachment — let me at least lose no time in claiming that." 

" It must not be rendered here, but in Kirkwall. — We must 
invoke, to witness the engagement, the Spirit which presides over 
the ancient Circle of Stennis. But perhaps you fear to name the 
ancient Father of the Slain too, the Severe, the Terrible ? " 

Cleveland smiled. 

" Do me the justice to think, lovely Minna, that I am little sub- 
ject to fear real causes of terror ; and for those which are visionary 
I have no sympathy whatever." 

"You believe not in them, then ?" said Minna, " and are so far 
better suited to be Brenda's lover than mine." 

" I will believe," replied Cleveland, " in whatever you believe. 
The whole inhabitants of that Valhalla, about which you converse 
so much with that fiddUng, rhyming fool, Claud Halcro — all these 
shall become living and existing things to my credulity. But, 
Minna, do not ask me to fear any of them." 

"Fear! no — not to /^ar them, surely," replied the maiden; "for, 
not before Thor or Odin, when they approached in the fulness of 
their terrors, did the heroes of my dauntless race yield one foot in 
retreat. Nor do I own them as Deities — a better faith prevents so 


foul an error. But, in our own conception, they are powerful spirits 
for good or evil. And when you boast not to fear them, bethink 
you that you defy an enemy of a kind you have never yet 
encountered." ' 

" Not in these northern latitudes," said the lover, with a smile 
" where hitherto I have seen but angels ; but I have faced, in my 
time, the demons of the Equinoctial Line, which we rovers suppose 
to be as powerful, and as malignant, as those of the North." 

" Have you, then, witnessed those Wonders that are beyond the 
visible world?," said Minna, with some degree of awe. 

Cleveland composed his countenance, and replied, — "A short 
while before my father's death, I came, though then very young, 
into the command of a sloop, manned with thirty as desperate 
fellows as ever handled a musket. We cruized for a long v/hile 
with bad success, taking nothing but wretched small-craft, which 
were destined to catch turtle, or otherwise loaded with coarse and 
worthless trumpery. I had much ado to prevent my comrades from 
avenging upon the crews of those baubling shallops the disappoint- 
ment which they had occasioned to us. At length, we grew 
desperate, and made a descent on a village, where we were told we 
should intercept the mules of a certain Spanish governor, laden 
with treasure. We succeeded in carrying the place ; but while I 
endeavoured to save the inhabitants from the fury of my followers, 
the muleteers, with their precious cargo, escaped into the neigh- 
bouring woods. This filled up the measure of my unpopularity. 
My people, who had been long discontented, became openly 
mutinous. I was deposed fi'om my command in solemn council, 
and condemned, as having too little luck and too much humanity 
for the profession I had undertaken, to be marooned,* as the phrase 
goes, on one of those little sandy, bushy islets, which are called, in 
the West Indies, keys, and which are frequented only by turtle and 
by sea-fowl. Many of them are supposed to be haunted — some by 
the demons worshipped by the old inhabitants — some by Caciques 
and others, whom the Spaniards had put to death by torture, to 
compel them to discover their hidden treasures, and others by the 
various spectres in which sailors of all nations have implicit faith.* 
My place of banishment, called Coffin-key, about two leagues and 
a half to the south-east of Bermudas, was so infamous as the resort 
of these supernatural inhabitants, that I believe the wealth of 
Mexico would not have persuaded the bravest of the scoundrels 
who put me ashore there, to have spent an hour on the islet alone, 
even in broad daylight ; and when they rowed off, they pulled for 
the sloop like men that dared not cast their eyes behind them. 
And there they left me, to subsist as I might, on a speck of unpro- 


ductive sand, surrounded by the boundless Atlantic, and haunted, 
as they supposed, by malignant demons." 

" And what was the consequence ? " said Minna, eagerly. 

" I supported life," said the adventurer, " at the expense of such 
sea-fowl, aptly called boobies, as were silly enough to let me 
approach so near as to knock them down with a stick ; and by 
means of turtle-eggs, when these complaisant birds became better 
acquainted with the mischievous disposition of the human species, 
and more shy of course of my advances." 

"And the demons of whom you spoke?" — continued Minna. 

" I had my secret apprehensions upon their account," said 
Cleveland : " in open daylight, or in absolute darkness, I did not 
greatly apprehend their approach j the misty dawn of the 
morning, or when evening was about to fall, I saw, for the first 
week of my abode on the key, many a dim and undefined spectre, 
now resembling a Spaniard, with his capa wrapped around him, 
and his huge sombrero, as large as an umbrella, upon his head, — 
now a Dutch sailor, with his rough cap and trunk-hose, — and now 
an Indian Cacique, with his feathery crown and long lance of 

" Did you not approach and address them ? " said Minna. 

" I always approached them," replied the seaman ; " but, — I 
grieve to disappoint your expectations, my fair friend, — whenever I 
drew near them, the phantom changed into a bush, or a piece of 
driftwood, or a wreath of mist, or some such cause of deception, 
until at last I was taught by experience to cheat myself no longer 
with such visions, and continued a solitary inhabitant of Coffin- 
key, as little alarmed by visionary terrors, as I ever was in the 
great cabin of a stout vessel, with a score of companions around 

" You have cheated me into listening to a tale of nothing,'' said 
Minna ; " but how long did you continue on the island ?" 

" Four weeks of wretched existence," said Cleveland, " when I 
was relieved by the crew of a vessel which came thither a-turtling. 
Yet .my miserable seclusion was. not entirely useless to me ; for on 
that spot of barren sand I found, or rather forged, the iron mask, 
which has since been my chief security against treason, or mutiny 
of my followers. It was there I formed the resolution to seem no 
softer hearted, nor better instructed — no more humane, and no 
more scrupulous, than those with whom fortune had leagued me. 
I thought over my former story, and saw that seeming more brave, 
skilful, and enterprising than others, had gained me command and 
respect, and that seeming more gently nurtured, and more civilized 
than they, had made them envy and hate me as a being of another 


species. I bargained with myself, then, that since I could not lay 
aside my superiority of intellect and education, I would do my 
best to disguise, and to sink in the rude seaman, all appearance of 
better feeling and better accomplishments. I foresaw then what 
has since happened, that, under the appearance of daring obduracy, 
I should acquire such a habitual command over my followers, that 
I might use it for the insurance of discipline, and for relieving the 
distresses of the wretches who fell under our power. I saw, in 
short, that to attain authority, I must assume the external sem- , 
blance, at least, of those over whom it was to be exercised. The 
tidings of my father's fate, while it excited me to vnrath and to 
revenge, confirmed the resolution I had adopted. He also had 
fallen a victim to his superiority of mind, morals, and manners, 
above those whom he commanded. They were wont to call him 
the Gentleman ; and, unquestionably, they thought he waited some 
favourable opportunity to reconcile himself, perhaps at their 
expense, to those existing forms of society his habits seemed best 
to suit with, and, even therefore, they murdered him. Nature and 
justice alike called on me for revenge. I was soon at the head of a 
new body of the adventurers, who are so numerous in those islands. 
I sought not after those by whom I had been myself marooned, but 
after the wretches who had betrayed my father ; and on them I 
took a revenge so severe, that it was of itself sufficient to stamp / 
me with the character of that inexorable ferocity which I was 
desirous .to be thought to possess, and which, perhaps was gradually 
creeping on my natural disposition in actual earnest. My manner, 
speech, and conduct, seemed so totally changed, that those who 
formerly knew me were disposed to ascribe the alteration to my 
intercourse with the demons who haunted the sands of Coffin-key; 
nay, there were some superstitious enough to believe, that I had 
actually formed a league with them." 

"I tremble to hear the rest!" said Minna; "did you not 
become the monster* of courage and cruelty whose character you 
assumed ? " 

" If I have escaped being so, it is to you, Minna," replied Cleve- 
land, " that the wonder must be ascribed. It is true, I have always 
endeavoured to distinguish myself rather by acts of adventurous 
valour, than by schemes of revenge or of plunder, and that at 
length I could save lives by a rude jest, and sometimes, by the 
excess of the measures which I myself proposed, could induce' 
those under me to intercede in favour of prisoners ; so that the 
seeniing severity of my character has better served the cause of 
humanity, than had I appeared directly devoted to it." 

He ceased, and, as Minna replied not a word, both remained 


silent for a little space, when Cleveland again resumed the dis- 
course :- 

"You are silent," he said, "Miss Troil, and I have injured 
myself in your opinion by the frankness with which I have laid my 
character before you. I may truly say that my natural disposition 
has been controlled, but not altered, by the untoward circum- 
stances in which I am placed." 

" I am uncertain," said Minna, after a moment's consideration, 
" whether you had been thus candid, had you not known I should 
soon see your comrades, and discover, from their conversation and 
their manners, what you would otherwise gladly have concealed." 

" You do me injustice, Minna, cruel injustice. From the instant 
that you knew me to be a sailor of fortune, an adventurer, a buc- 
canier, or, if you will have the broad word, a PIRATE, what had 
you to expect less than what I have told you ? " 

"You speak too truly," said Minna — "all this I might have 
anticipated, and I know not how I should have expected it other- 
wise. But it seemed to me that a war on the cruel and super- 
stitious Spaniards had in it something ennobling— .-something that 
refined the fierce employment to which you have just now given its 
true and dreaded name. I thought that the independent warriors 
of the Western Ocean, raised up, as it were, to punish the wrongs 
of so many murdered and plundered tribes, must have had something 
of gallant elevation, like that of the Sons of the North, whose long 
galleys avenged on so many coasts the oppressions of degenerate 
Rome. This I thought, and this I dreamed — I grieve that I am 
awakened and undeceived. Yet I blame you not for the erring of 
my own fancy. — Farewell ; we must now part." 

" Say at least," said Cleveland, " that you do not hold me in 
horror for having told you the truth." 

" I must have time for reflection," said Minna, " time to weigh 
what you have said, ere I can fully understand my own feelings. 
Thus much, however, I can say even now, that he who pursues the 
wicked purpose of plunder, by means of blood and cruelty, and 
who must veil his remains of natural remorse under an affectation 
of superior profligacy, is not, and cannot be, the lover whom Minna 
Troil expected to find in Cleveland ; and if she still love him, it 
must be as a penitent, and not as a hero." 

So saying, she extricated herself from his grasp, (for he still 
endeavoured to detain her,) making an imperative sign to him to 
forbear from following her. — " She is gone," said Cleveland, look- 
ing after her ; " wild and fanciful as she is, I expected not this. — 
She startled not at the name of my perilous course of life, yet 
seems totally unprepared for the evil which must necessarily attend 


it ; and so all the merit I have gained by my resemblance to a 
Norse Champion, or King of the Sea, is to be lost at once, because 
a gang of pirates do not prove to be a choir of saints. I would 
that Rackam, Hawkins, and tlie rest, had been at the bottom of 
the Race of Portland — I would the Pentland Frith had swept 
them to hell rather than to Orkney ! I will not, however, quit the 
chase of this angel for all that these fiends can do. I will — I must 
to Orkney before the Udaller makes his voyage thither — our meet- 
ing might alarm even his blunt understanding, although, thank 
Heaven, in this wild country^ men know the nature of our trade 
only by hearsay, through our honest friends the Dutch, who take 
care never to speak very ill of those they make money by. — 
Well, if fortune would but stand my friend with this beautiful 
enthusiast, I would pursue her wheel no farther at sea, but set 
myself down amongst these rocks, as happy as if they were so 
many groves of bananas and palmettoes." 

With these, and such thoughts, half rolling in his bosom, half 
expressed in indistinct hints and murmurs, the pirate Cleveland' 
returned to the mansion of Burgh- Westra. 


There was shaking of hands, and sorrow of heart. 
For the hour was approaching when merry folks must part ; 
So we call'd for our horses, and ask'd for our way. 
While the jolly old landlord said, " Nothing's to pay." 

Lilliput, a Poem. 

We do not dwell upon the festivities of the day, which had 
nothing in them to interest the reader particularly. The table 
groaned under the usual plenty, which was disposed of by the 
guests with the usual appetite — the bowl of punch was filled and 
emptied with the same celerity as usual — the men quaffed, and 
the women laughed — Claud Halcro rhymed, punned, and praised 
John Dryden — the Udaller bumpered and sung choruses — and 
the evening concluded, as usual, in the Rigging-loft, as it was 
Magnus Troll's pleasure to term the dancing apartment. 

It was then and there that Cleveland, approaching Magnus, 
where he sat betwixt his two daughters, intimated his intention 
of going to Kirkwall in a small brig, which Bryce Snailsfoot, who 


had disposed of his goods with unprecedented celerity, had 
freighted thither, to procure a supply. 

Magnus heard the sudden proposal of his guest with surprise, 
not unmingled with displeasure, and demanded sharply of Cleve- 
land, how long it was since he had learned to prefer Bryce 
Snailsfoot's company to his own? Cleveland answered, with his 
usual bluntness of manner, that time and tide tarried for no one, 
and that he had his own particular reasons for making his trip to 
Kirkwall sooner than the Udaller proposed to set sail— that he 
hoped to meet with him and his daughters at the great fair which 
was now closely approaching, and might perhaps find it possible to 
return to Zetland 'along with them. 

While he spoke this, Brenda kept her eye as much upon her 
sister as it was possible to do, without exciting general observation. 
She remarked, that Minna's pale cheek became yet paler while 
Cleveland spoke, and that she seemed, by compressing her lips, 
and slightly knitting her brows, to be in the act of repressing 
the effects of strong interior emotion. But she spoke not ; and 
when Cleveland, having bidden adieu to the Udaller, approached 
to salute her, as was then the custom, she received his farewell 
without trusting herself to attempt a reply. 

Brenda had her own trial approaching ; for Mordaunt Mertoun, 
once so much loved by her father, was now in the act of making 
his cold parting from him, without receiving a single look of 
friendly regard. There was, indeed, sarcasm in the tone with 
which Magnus wished the youth a good journey, and recommended 
to him, if he met a bonny lass by the way, not to dream that she 
was in love, because she chanced to jest with him. Mertoun 
coloured at what he felt as an insult, though it was but half 
intelligible to him ; but he remembered Brenda, and suppressed 
every feeling of resentment. He proceeded to take his leave of 
the sisters. Minna, whose heart was considerably softened towards 
him, received his farewell with some degree of interest ; but 
Brenda's grief was so visible in the kindness of her manner, and 
the moisture which gathered in her eye, that it was noticed even by 
the Udaller, who exclaimed, half angrily, "Why, ay, lass, that 
may be right enough, for he was an old acquaintance ; but mind ! 
I have no will that he remain one." 

Mertoun, who was slowly leaving the apartment, half overheard 
this disparaging observation, and half turned round to resent it. 
But his purpose failed him when he saw that Brenda had been 
obliged to have recourse to her handkerchief to hide her emotion, 
and the sense that it was excited by his departure, obliterated every 
thought of her father's unkindness. He retired — the other guests 


followed his example ; and many of them, like Cleveland and him- 
self, took their leave over-night, with the intention of commencing 
their homeward journey on the succeeding morning. 

That night, the mutual sorrow of Minna and Brenda, if it could 
not wholly remove the reserve which had estranged the sisters from 
each other, at least melted all its frozen and unkindly symptoms. 
They wept in each other's arms ; and though neither spoke, yet 
each bec.ame dearer to the other; because they .felt that the 
grief which called forth these drops, had a source common to 
them both. 

It is probable, that though Brenda's tears were most abundant, 
the grief of Minna was most deeply seated ; for, long after the 
younger had sobbed herself asleep, like a child, upon her sister's 
bosom, Minna lay awake, watching the dubious twilight, while tear 
after tear slowly gathered in her eye, and found a current down her 
cheek, as soon as it became too heavy to be supported by her long 
black silken eyelashes. As she lay, bewildered among the sorrow- 
ful thoughts which supplied these tears, she was surprised to dis- 
tinguish, beneath the window, the sounds of music. At first she 
supposed it was some freak of Claud Halcro, whose fantastic 
humour sometimes indulged itself in such serenades. But it was 
not the gue of the old minstrel, but the guitar, that she heard ; an 
instrument which none in the island knew how to touch except 
Cleveland, who had learned, in his intercourse with the South- 
American Spaniards, to play on it with superior execution. 
Perhaps it was in those climates also that he had learned the song, 
which, though he now sung it under the window of a maiden of 
Thule, had certainly never been composed for the native of a 
climate so northerly and so severe, since it spoke of productions 
of the earth and skies which are there unknown. 

" Love wakes and weeps 
While Beauty sleeps : 

O for Music's softest numbers, 
To prompt a theme. 
For Beauty's dream. 

Soft as the pillow of her slumbers ! 

" Through groves of palm 

Sigh gales of balm. 
Fire-flies on the air are wheeling ; 

While through the gloom 

Comes soft perfume. 
The distant beds of flowers revealing. 


" O wake and live, 

No dream can giva 
A shadoVd bliss, the real excelling ; 

No longer sleep, 

From lattice peep. 
And list the tale that Love is telling ! " 

The voice of Cleveland was deep, rich, and manly, and accorded 
well with the Spanish air, to which the words, probably a transla- 
tion from the same language, had beert adapted. His invocation 
would not probably have been fruitless, could Minna have arisen 
without awaking her sister. But that was impossible ; for Brenda, 
who, as we have already mentioned, had wept bitterly before she 
had sunk into repose, now lay with her face on her sister's neck, 
and one arm stretched around her, in the attitude of a child which 
has cried itself asleep in the arms of its nurse. It was impossible 
for Minna to extricate herself from her grasp without awaking 
her ; and she could not, therefore, execute her hasty purpose, of 
donning her gown, and approaching the' window to speak with 
Cleveland, who, she had no doubt, had resorted to this contrivance 
to procure an interview. The restraint was sufficiently provoking, 
for it was more than probable that her lover came to take his 
last farewell ; but that Brenda, inimical as she seemed to be of late 
towards Cleveland, should awake and witness it, was a thought not 
to be endured. 

There was a short pause, in which Minna endeavoured more than 
once, with as much gentleness as possible, to unclasp Brenda's arm 
from her neck ; but whenever she attempted it, the slumberer mut- 
tered some little pettish sound, like a child disturbed in its sleep, 
which sufficiently showed that perseverance in the attempt would 
awaken her fully. 

To her great vexation, therefore, Ininna was compelled to remain 
still and silent ; when her lover, as if determined upon gaining her 
ear by music of another strain, sung the following fragment of a 
sea-ditty : — 

" Farewell ! Farewell ! the voice you hear. 
Has left its last soft tone with you, — 

Its next must join the seaward cheer, 
And shout among the shouting crew. 

" The accents which I scarce could form 
Beneath your frown's Controlling check, 

Must give the word, above the storm. 
To cut the mast and clear the wreck. 


" The timid eye I dared not raise, — 
The hand that shook when, press'd to thine, 

Must point the guns upon the chase,— 
Must bid the deadly cutlass shine. 

" To all I love, or hope, or fear, — 

Honour, or own, a long adieu ! 
To all that life has soft and dear. 

Farewell ! save memory of you ! " * 

He was again silent ; and again she, to whom the serenade was 
addressed, strove in vain to arise without rousing her sister. It 
was impossible ; and she had nothing before her but the unhappy 
thought that Cleveland was taking leave in his desolation, without 
a single glance, or a single word. He, too, whose temper was so 
fiery, yet who subjected his violent mood with such sedulous atten- 
tion to her will-t could she but have stolen a moment to say adieu — 
to caution him against new quarrels with Mertoun — to implore him 
to detach himself from such comrades as he had described — could 
she but have done 'this, who could say what effect such parting 
admonitions might have had upon his character — nay, upon the 
future events of his life ? 

Tantalized by such thoughts, Minna was about to make another 
and decisive effort, when she heard voices beneath the window, and 
thought she could distinguish that they were those of Cleveland 
and Mertoun, speaking in a sharp tone, which, at the sarne time, 
seemed cautiously suppressed, as if the speakers feared being over- 
heard. Alarm now mingled with her former desire to rise from bed, 
and she accomplished at once the purpose which she had so often 
attempted in vain. Brenda's arm waj unloosed from her sister's 
neck, without the sleeper receiving more alarm than, provoked two 
or three unintelligible murmurs ; while, with equal speed and 
silence, Minna put on some part of her dress, with the intention to 
steal to the window. But, ere she could accomplish this, the sound 
of the voices without was exchanged for that of blows and strug- 
gling, which terminated suddenly by a deep groan. 

Terrified at this last signal of mischief, Minna sprung to the 
window, and endeavoured to open it, for the persons were so close 
under the walls of the house that she could not see them, save 
by putting her head out of the casement. The iron hasp was stiff 
and rusted, and, as generally happens, the haste with which she 
laboured to undo it only rendered the task more difficult. When 
it was accomplished, and Minna had eagerly thrust her body half 
out at the casement, those who had created the sounds which 
alarmed her were become invisible, excepting that she saw a 


shadow cross the moonlight, the substance of which must have 
been in the act of turning a corner, which concealed it from her 
sight. The shadow moved slowly, and seemed that of a man who 
supported another upon his shoulders ; an indication which put the 
climax to Minna's agony of mind. The window was not above 
eight feet from the ground, and she hesitated not to throw hersel 
from it hastily, and to pursue the object which had excited her terror. 

But when she came to the corner of the buildings from which the 
shadow seemed to have been projected, she discovered nothing 
which could point out the way that the figure had gone ; and, after 
a moment's consideration, became sensible that all attempts at 
pursuit would be alike wild and fruitless. Besides all the pro- 
jections and recesses of the many-angled mansion, and its numerous 
offices — ^besides the various cellars, store-houses, stables, and so 
forth, which defied her solitary search, there was a range of low 
rocks, stretching down to the haven, and which were, in fact, a 
continuation of the ridge whicTi formed its pier. These rocks had 
many indentures, hollows, and caverns, into any one of which the 
figure to which the shadow belonged might have retired with his 
fatal burden ; for fatal, she feared, it was most likely to prove. 

A moment's reflection, as we have said, convinced Minna of the 
folly of further pursuit. Her next thought was to alarm the family ; 
but what tale had she to tell, and of whom was that tale to be told? 
— On the other hand, the wounded man — if indeed he were wounded 
— alas, if indeed he were not mortally wounded! — might not be 
past the reach of assistance ; and, with this idea, she was about to 
raise her voice, when she was interrupted by that of Claud Halcro, 
who was returning apparently from the haven, and singing, in his 
manner, a scrap of an old Norse ditty, which might run thus in 
English : — 

"And you shall deal the funeral dole ; 

Ay, deal it, mother mine, 
To weary body, and to heavy soul, 

The white bread and the wine. 

" And you shall deal my horses of pride ; 

Ay, deal them, mother mine ; 
And you shall deal my lands so wide, 

And deal my castles nine. 

" But deal not vengeance for the deed, 

And deal not for the crime ; 
The body to its place, and the soul to Heaven's grace, 

And the rest in God's own time." 



The singular adaptation of these rhymes to the situation in which 
she found herself, seemed to Minna like a warning from Heaven. 
We are speaking of a land of omens and superstitions, and perhaps 
will scarce be understood by those whose limited imagination cannot 
conceive how strongly these operate upon the human mind during 
a certain progress of society. A line of Virgil, turned up casually, 
was received in the seventeenth century, and in the court of Eng- 
land,* as an intimation of future events ; and no wonder that a 
maiden of the distant and wild isles of Zetland should have con- 
sidered as an injunction from Heaven, verses which happened to 
convey a sense analogous to her present situation. 

" I will be silent," she muttered, — " I will seal my lips — 

'The body to its place, and the soul to Heaven's grace, 
And the rest in God's own time.' " 

" Who speaks there ? " said Claud Halcro, in some alarm ; for 
he had not, in his travels in fdreign parts, been able by any means 
to rid himself of his native superstitions. In the condition to which 
fear and horror had reduced her, Minna was at first unabld to 
reply ; and Halcro, fixing his eyes upon the female white figure, 
which he saw indistinctly, (for she stood in the shadow of the 
house, and the morning was thick and misty,) began to conjure her in 
ah ancient -rhyme which occurred to him as suited for the occasion, 
and which had in its gibberish a wild and unearthly sound, which 
may be lost in the ensuing translation : — 

" Saint Magnus control thee, that martyr of treason ; 
Saint Ronan rebuke thee, with rhyme and with reason ; 
By the mass of Saint Martin, the might of Saint Mary, 
Be thou gone, or thy weird shall be worse if thou tarry ! 

If of good, go hence and hallow thee, — 

If of ill, let the earth swallow thee, — 

If thou'rt of air, let the grey mist fold thee, — 

If of earth, let the swart mine hold thee, — 

If a Pixie, seek thy ring, — 

If a Nixie, seek thy spring ; — 

If on middle earth thou'st been 

Slave of sorrow, shame, and sin. 

Hast eat the bread of toil and strife, 

'And dree'd the lot which men call life. 
Begone to thy stone ! for thy coffin is scant of thee, 
The worm, thy playfellow, wails for the want of thee ; — 
Hence, houseless ghost ! let the earth hide thee. 
Till Michael shall blow the blast, see that there thou bide thee ! — 
Phantom, fly hence ! take the Cross for a token, 
Hence pass till Hallowmass ! — my spell is spoken." 


" It is I, Halcro," muttered Minna, in a tone so thin and low, 
that it might have passed for the faint reply of the conjured 

"You !— you ! " said Halcro, his tone of alarm changing to one of 
extreme surprise ; " by this moonlight, which is waining, and so it 
is ! — Who could have thought to find you, my most lovely Night, 
wandering abroad in your own element ! — But you saw them, I 
reckon, as wejl as I ? — bold enough in you to follow them, though." 

" Saw whom ? — follow whom ? " said Minna, hoping to gain some 
information on the subject of her fears and anxiety. 

" The corpse-lights which danced at the haven," replied Halcro ; 
"they bode no good, I promise you — you wot well what the old 
rhyme says — 

' Where corpse-light 

Dances bright. 

Be it day or night. 

Be it by light or dark, 

There shall corpse lie stiff and stark.' 

I went half as far as the haven to look after them, but they had 
vanished. I think I saw a boat put off, however, — some one bound 
for the Haaf, I suppose. — I would we had good news of this fish- 
ing — there was Noma left us in anger, — and then these corpse- 
lights ! — Well, God help the while ! I am an old man, and can but 
wish that all were well over. — But how now, my pretty Minna ? 
tears in your eyes ! — And now that I see you in the fair moonlight, 
barefooted, too, by Saint Magnus ! — Were there no stockings of 
Zetland wool soft enough for these pretty feet and ankles, that glance 
so white in the moon-beam? — What, silent ! — angry, perhaps," he 
added, in a more serious tone, " at my nonsense ? For shame, 
silly maiden ! — Remember I am old enough to be your father, and 
have always loved you as my child." 

" I am not angry," said Minna, constraining herself to speak — 
"but heard you nothing? — saw you nothing .' — They must have 
passed you." 

" They ? " said Claud Halcro ; " what mean you by they ? — is it 
the corpse-lights ?— No, they did not pass by me, but I think they 
have passed by you, and blighted you with their influence, for you 
are as pale as a spectre.— Come, come, Minna," he added, opening 
a side-door of the dwelling, " these moonlight walks are fitter for 
old poets than for young maidens — And so lightly clad as you are ! 
Maiden, you should take care how you give yourself to the breezes 
of a Zetland night, for they bring more sleet than odours upon their 


wings.— But, maiden, go in ; for, as glorious John says— or, as he 
does not say — for I cannot remember how his verse chimes — but, 
as I say myself, in a pretty poem, written when my muse was in 
her teens, — 

Menseful maiden ne'er should rise. 
Till the first beam tinge the skies ; 
Silk-fringed eyelids still should close. 
Till the sun has kiss'd the rose ; 
Maiden's foot we should not view, 
Mark'd with tiny print on dew, 
Till the opening flowerets spread 
Carpet meet for beauty's tread — 

Stay, what comes next ? — let me see." 

When the spirit of recitation seized on Claud Halcro, he forgot 
time and place, and might have kept his companion in the cold air 
for half an hour, giving poetical reasons why she ought to have 
been in bed. But she interrupted him by the question, earnestly 
pronounced, yet in a voice which was scarcely articulate, holding 
Halcro, at the same time, with a trembling and convulsive grasp, 
as if to support herself from falling, — " Saw you no one in the boat 
which put to sea but now ? " 

" Nonsense," replied Halcro ; " how could I see any one, when 
light and distance only enabled me to know that it was a boat, and 
not a grampus ? " 

" But there must have been some one in the boat ? " repeated 
Minna, scarce conscious of what she said. 

" Certainly," answered the poet ; " boats [seldom work to wind- 
ward of their own accord. — But come, this is all folly ; and so, as 
the Queen says, in an old play, which was revised for the stage 
by rare Will D'Avenant, ' To bed— to bed— to bed ! ' " 

They separated, and Minna's limbs conveyed her with difficulty, 
through several devious passages, to her own chamber, where she 
stretched herself cautiously beside her still sleeping sister, with a 
mind harassed with the most agonizing apprehensions. That she 
had heard Cleveland, sne was positive — the tenor of the songs left 
her no doubt on that subject. If not equally certain that she had 
heard young Mertoun's voice in hot quarrel with her lover, the im- 
pression to that effect was strong on her mind. The groan with 
which the struggle seemed to terminate — the fearful indication 
from which it seemed that the conqueror had borne off the liieless 
body of his victim— all tended to prove that some fatal event had, 
concluded the contest. And which of the unhappy, men had 
fallen ?— which had met a bloody death ? — which had achieved a 



fatal and a bloody victory ? — These were questions to which the 
still small voice of interior conviction answered, that her lover 
Cleveland, from character, temper, and habits, was most likely to 
have been the survivor of the fray. She received from the reflec- 
tion an involuntary consolation which she almost detested herself 
for admitting, when she recollected that it was at once darkened 
with her lover's guilt, and embittered with the destruction of 
Brenda's happiness for ever. 

" Innocent, unhappy sister ! " such were her reflections ; " thou 
that art ten times better than I, because so unpretending— so un- 
assuming in thine excellence ! How is it possible that I should 
cease to feel a pang, which is only transferred from my bosom to 

As these cruel thoughts crossed her mind, she could not refrain 
from straining her sister so close to her bosom, that, after a heavy 
sigh, Brenda awoke. 

" Sister," she said, " is it you ? — I dreamed I lay on one of those 
monuments which Claud Halcro described to us, where the effigy 
of the inhabitant beneath lies carved in stone upon the sepulchre. 
I dreamed such a marble form lay by my side, and that it suddenly 
acquired enough of life and animation to fold me to its cold, moist 
bosom — and it is yours, Minna, that is indeed so chilly. — You are 
ill, my dearest Minna ! for God's sake, let me rise and call Eu- 
phane Fea. — What ails you ? has Noma been here again ? " 

" Call no one hither," said Minna, detaining her ; " nothing ails 
me for which any one has a remedy — nothing but apprehensions of 
evil worse than even Noma could prophesy. But God is above all, 
my dear Brenda ; and let us pray to him to turn, as he only can, 
our evil into good." 

They did jointly repeat their usual prayer for strength and pro- 
tection from on high, aijd again composed themselves to sleep, 
suffering no word save " God bless you," to pass betwixt them, 
when their devotions were finished ; thus scrupulously dedicating 
to Heaven their last waking words, if human frailty prevented them 
from commanding their last waking thoughts. Brenda slept first, 
and Minna, strongly resisting the dark and evil presentiments which 
again began to crowd themselves upon her imagination, was at last 
so fortunate as to slumber also. 

The storm which Halcro had expected began about daybreak, — 
a squall, heavy with wind and rain, such as is often felt, even during 
the finest part of the season, in these latitudes. At the whistle of 
the wind, and the clatter of the rain on the shingle-roofing of the 
fishers' huts, many a poor woman was awakened, and called on her 
children to hold up their little hands, and join in prayer for the 


safety of the dear husband and father, who was even then at the 
mercy of the disturbed elements. Around the house of Burgh- 
Westra, chimneys howled, and windows clashed. The props and 
rafters of the higher parts of the building,- most of them formed out 
of wreck-wood, groaned and quivered, as fearing to be again dis- 
persed by the tempest. But the daughters of Magnus Troil con- 
tinued to sleep as softly and as sweetly as if the hand of Chantrey 
had formed them out of statuary-marble. The squall had passed 
away, and the sunbeams, dispersing the clouds which drifted to 
leeward, shone full through the lattice, when Minna first started 
from the profound sleep into which fatigue and mental exhaustion 
had lulled her, and raising herself on her arm, began to recall 
events, which, after this interval of profound repose, seemed almost 
to resemble the baseless visions of the night. She almost doubted 
if what she recalled of horror, previous to her starting from her bed, 
was not indeed the fiction of a dream, suggested, perhaps, by some 
external sounds. 

" I will see Claud Halcro instantly," she said ; " he may know 
something of these strange noises, as he was stirring at the 

With that she sprung from bed, but hardly stood upright on the 
floor, ere her sister exclaimed, " Gracious Heaven ! Minna, what 
ails your foot — your anlde .■' " 

She looked down, and saw with surprise, which amounted to 
agony, that both her feet, but particularly one of them, was stained 
with dark crimson, resembling the colour of dried blood. 

Without attempting to answer Brenda, she rushed to the window, 
and cast a desperate look on the grass beneath, for there she knew 
she must have contracted the fatal stain. But the rain, which had 
fallen there in treble quantity, as well from the heavens, as from 
the eaves of the house, had washed away that guilty witness, if 
indeed such had ever existed. All was fresh and fair, and the 
blades of grass, overcharged and bent with rain-drops, glittered 
like diamonds in the bright morning sun. 

While Minna stared upon the spangled verdure, with her full 
dark eyes fixed and enlarged to circles by the intensity of her 
terror, Brenda was hanging about her, and with many an eager 
enquiry, pressed to know whether or how she had hurt herself? 

"A piece of glass cut through my shoe," said Minna, bethinking 
herself that some excuse was necessary to her sister ; " I scarce 
felt it at the time." 

"And yet see how it has bled," said her sister. " Sweet Minna," 
she added, approaching her with a %yetted towel, " let me wipe the 
blood off— the hurt may be worse than you think of." 

R 2 


But as she approached, Minna, who saw no other way of pre- 
venting discovery that the blood with which she was stained had 
never flowed in her own veins, harshly and hastily repelled the 
proffered kindness. Poor Brenda, unconscious of any offence 
which she had given to her sister, drew back two or three paces on 
finding her service thus unkindly refused, and stood gazing at 
Minna with looks in which there was more of surprise and morti- 
fied affection than of resentment, but which had yet something also 
of natural displeasure. 

" Sister," said she, " I thought we had agreed but last night, 
that, happen to us what might, we would at least love each other." 

"Much may happen betwixt night and morning !" answered 
Minna, in words rather wrenched from her by her situation, than 
flowing forth the voluntary interpreters of her thoughts. 

" Much may indeed have happened in a night so stormy,'' an- 
swered Brenda ; " for see where the very wall around Euphane's 
plant-a-cruive has been blown down ; but neither wind nor rain, 
nor aught else, can cool our affection, Minna." 

" But that may chance," replied Minna, "which may convert it 

The rest of the sentence she muttered in a tone so indistinct, 
that it could not be apprehended ; while, at the same time, she 
washed the blood-stains fromher feet and left ankle. Brenda, who 
still remained looking on at some distance, endeavoured in vain to 
assume some tone which might re-establish kindness and confi- 
dence betwixt them. 

" You were right," she said, " Minna, to suffer no one to help you 
to dress so simple a scratch — standing where I do, it is scarce 

"The most cruel wounds,'' replied Minna, "are those which 
make no outward show — Are you sure you see it at all ? " 

" O, yes ! " replied Brenda, framing her answer as she thought 
would best please her sister ; " I see a very slight scratch ; nay, 
now you draw on the stocking, I can see nothing." 

" You do indeed see nothing," answered Minna, somewhat wildly; 
" but the time will soon come that all — ay, all— will be seen and 

So saying, she hastily completed her dress, and led the way to 
breakfast, where she assumed her place amongst the guests ; but 
with a countenance so pale and haggard, and manners and speech 
so altered and so bewildered, that it excited the attention of the 
whole company, and the utmost anxiety on the part of her father 
Magnus Troil. Many and various were the conjectures of the 
guests, concerning a distemperature which seemed rather mental 


than corporeal. Some hinted that the maiden had been struck 
with an evil eye, and something they muttered about Noma of the 
Fitful-head ; some talked of the departure of Captain Cleveland, 
and murmured, " it was a shame for a young lady to take on so 
after a land-louper, of whom no one knew any thing;" and this 
contemptuous epithet was in particular bestowed on the Captain 
by Mistress Baby Yellowley, while she was in the act of wrapping 
round her old skinny neck the very handsome owerlay (as she 
called it) wherewith the said Captain had presented her. The old 
Lady Glowrowrum had a system of her own, which she hinted to 
Mistress Yellowley, after thanking God that her own connexion with 
the Burgh-Westra family was by the lass's mother, who was a 
canny Scotswoman, like herself. 

" For, as to these Troils, you see, Dame Yellowley, for aS high 
as they hold their heads, they say that ken " (winking sagaciously,) 
" that there is a bee in their bonnet ; — that Noma, as they call her, 
for it's not her right name neither, is at whiles far beside her right 
mind, — and they that ken the cause, say the Fowd was some gate 
or other linked in with it, for he will never hear an ill word of her. 
But I was in Scotland then, or I might have kend the real cause, 
as weel as other folk. At ony rate there is a kind of wildness in 
the blood. Ye ken very weel daft folk dinna bide to be contra- 
dicted ; and I'll say that for the Fowd — he likes to be contradicted 
as ill as ony man in Zetland. But it shall never be said that I said 
ony ill of the house that I am sae nearly connected wi'. Only ye 
will mind, dame, it is through the Sinclairs that we are akin, not 
through the Troils, — and the Sinclairs are kend far and wide for a 
wise generation, dame. — But I see there is the stirrup-cup coming 

" I wonder," said Mistress Baby to her brother, as soon as the 
Lady Glowrowrum turned from her, " what gars that muckle wife 
dame, dame, dame, that gate at me ? She might ken the blude of 
the Clinkscales is as gude as ony Glowrowrum's amang them." 

The guests, meanwhile, were fast taking their departure, scarcely 
noticed by Magnus, who was so much engrossed with Minna's in- 
disposition, that, contrary to his hospitable wont, he suffered them to 
go away unsaluted. And thus concluded, amidst anxiety and ill- 
ness, the festival of Saint John, as celebrated on that season at the 
house of Burgh-Westra; adding another caution to that of the 
Emperor of Ethiopia, — with how little security man can reckon 
upon the days which he destines to happiness 



But this sad evil which doth her infest, 
Doth course of natural cause far exceed, 
And housed is within her hollow breast, 
That either seems some cursed witch's deed, 
Or evill spright that in her doth such torment breed. 

Fairy Queen, Book III., Canto III. 

The term had now elapsed, by several days, when Mordaunt 
Mertoun, as he had promised at his departure, -'■ ould have returned 
to his father's abode at Jarlshof, but there wcic no tidings of his 
arrival. Such delay might, at another time, have excited little 
curiosity, and no anxiety ; for old Swertha, who took upon her the 
office of thinking and conjecturing for the little household, would 
have concluded that he had remained behind the other guests upon 
some party of sport or pleasure. But she knew that Mordaunt had 
not been lately in favour with Magnus Troil ; she knew that he 
proposed his stay at Burgh-Westra should be a short one, upon 
account of his father's health, to whom, notwithstanding the little 
encouragement which his filial piety received, he paid uniform atten- 
tion. Swertha knew all this, and she became anxious. She watched 
the looks of her master, the elder Mertoun ; but, wrapt in dark 
and stern uniformity of composure, his countenance, like the sur- 
face of a midnight lake, enabled no one to penetrate into what was 
beneath. His studies, his solitary meals, his lonely walks, suc- 
ceeded each other in unvaried rotation, and seemed undisturbed by 
the least thought about Mordaunt's absence. 

At length such reports reached Swertha's ear, from various quar- 
ters, that she became totally unable to conceal her anxiety, and 
resolved at the risk of provoking her master into fury, or perhaps 
that of losing her place in his household, to force upon his notice 
the doubts which afflicted her own mind. Mordaunt's good-humour 
and goodly person must indeed have made no small impression on 
the withered and selfish heart of the poor old woman, to induce 
her to take a course so desperate, and from which her friend the 
Ranzelman endeavoured in vain to deter her. Still, however, con- 
scious that a miscarriage in the matter, would, like the loss of 
Trinculo's bottle in the horse-pool, be attended not only with dis- 
honour, but with infinite loss, she determined to proceed on her 
high emprize with as much caution as was consistent with the 

We have already mentioned, that it seemed a part of the very 


nature of this reserved and unsocial being, at least since his 
retreat into the utter solitude of Jarlshof, to endure no one to start 
a subject of conversation, or to put any question to him, that did 
not arise out of urgent and pressing emergency. Swertha was sen- 
sible, therefore, that, in order to open the discourse favourably 
which she proposed to hold with her master, she must contrive that 
it should originate with himself. 

To accomplish this purpose, while busied in preparing the table 
for Mr. Mertoun's simple and solitary dinner-meal, she formally 
adorned the table with two covers instead of one, and made all 
her other preparations as if he was to have a guest or companion 
at dinner. 

The artifice succeeded ; for Mertoun, on coming from his study, 
no sooner saw the table thus arranged, than he asked Swertha, 
who, waiting the effect of her stratagem as a fisher watches his 
ground-baits, was fiddling up and down the room, "Whether Mor- 
daunt was returned from Burgh- Westra ? " 

This question was the cue for Swertha, and she answered in a 
voice of sorrowful anxiety, half real, half affected, " Na, na ! — nae 
sic divot had dunted at their door. It wad be blithe news indeed, 
to ken that young Maister Mordaunt, puir dear bairn, were safe at 

" And if he be not at home, why should you lay a cover for him, 
you doting fool ? " replied Mertoun, in a tone well calculated to 
stop the old woman's proceedings. But she repUed, boldly, " that, 
indeed, somebody should take thought about Maister Mordaunt ; 
a' that she could do was to have seat and plate ready for him when 
he came. But she thought the dear bairn had been ower lang awa ; 
and, if she maun speak out, she had her ain fears when and 
whether he might ever come hame." 

" Your fears ! " said Mertoun, his eyes flashing as they usually 
did when his hour of ungovernable passion approached ; " do you 
speak of your idle fears to me, who know that all of your sex, that 
is not fickleness, and folly, and self-conceit, and self-will, is a bundle 
of idiotical fears, vapours, and tremors ? What are your fears to 
me, you fooUsh old hag ? " 

It is an admirable quality in womankind, that, when a breach of 
the laws of natural affection comes under their observation, the 
whole sex is in arms. Let a rumour arise in the street of a parent 
that has misused a child, or a child that has insulted a parent, — I 
say nothing of the case of husband and wife, where the interest 
may be accounted for in sympathy, — and all the women within 
hearing will take animated and decided part with the sufferer. 
Swertha, notwithstanding her greed and avarice, had her share of 


the generous feeling which does so much honour to her sex, and 
was, on this occasion, so much carried on by its impulse, that she 
confronted her master, and upbraided him with his hard-hearted 
indifference, with a boldness at which she herself was astonished. 

"To be sure it wasna her that suld be fearing for her young 
maister, Maister Mordaunt, even although he was, as she might 
weel say, the very sea-calf of her heart ; but ony other father, but 
his honour himsell, wad have had speerings made after the poor 
lad, and him gane this eight days from Burgh-Westra, and naebody 
kend when or where he had gane. There wasna a bairn in the 
howff but was maining for him ; for he made all their bits of boats 
with his knife ; there wadna be a dry;eye in the parish, if aught 
worse than weal should befall him, — na, no ane, unless it might be 
his honour's ain." 

Mertoun had been much struck, and even silenced, by the inso- 
lent volubility of his insurgent housekeeper ; but, at the last sar- 
casm, he imposed, on her silence in her turn with an audible voice, 
accompanied with one of the most terrific glances which his dark 
eye and stern features could express. But Swertha, who, as she 
afterwards acquainted the Ranzelman, was wonderfully supported 
during the whole scene, would not be controlled by the loud voice 
and ferocious look of her master, but proceeded in the same tone 
as before. 

" His honour,'' she said, " had made an unco wark because a 
wheen bits of kists and duds, that naebody had use for, had been 
gathered on the beach by the poor bodies of the township ; and 
here was the bravest lad in the country lost, and cast away, as 
it were, before his een, and nae ane asking what was come o' 

" What should come of him but good, you old fool," answered 
Mr. Mertoun, " as far, at least, as there can be good in any of the 
follies he spends his time in ? " 

This was spoken rather in a scornful than an angry tone, and 
Swertha, who had got into the spirit of the dialogue, was resolved 
not to let it drop, now that the fire of her opponent seemed to 

" O ay, to be sure I am an auld fule,— but, if Maister Mordaunt 
should have settled down in thB Roost, as mair than ae boat had 
been lost in that wearifu' squall the other morning— by good luck 
it was short as it was sharp, or naething could have lived in it — 
or if he were drowned in a loch coming hame on foot, or if he were 
killed by miss of footing on a craig— the haill island kend how 
venturesome he was— who," said Swertha, " will be the auld fule 
then ? " And she added a pathetic ejaculation, that ,' God would 


protect the poor motherless bairn ! for if he had had a mother, 
there would have been search made after him before now." 

This last sarcasm affected Mertoun powerfully, — his jaw quivered, 
his face grew pale, and he muttered to Swertha to go into his study 
(where she was scarcely ever permitted to enter,) and fetch him a 
bottle which stood there. 

" O ho ! " quoth Swertha to herself, as she hastened on the com- 
mission, "my master knows where to find a cup of comfort to 
qualify his water with upon fitting occasions." 

There was indeed a case of such bottles as were usually em- 
ployed to hold, stroftg waters, but the dust and cobwebs in which 
they were enveloped showed that they had not been touched for 
many years. With some difficulty Swertha extracted the cork of 
one of them, by the help of a fork — for corkscrew was there none 
at Jarlshof— and having ascertained by smell, and, in case of any 
mistake, by a moderate mouthful, that it contained wholesome 
Barbadoes-waters, she carried it into the room, where her master 
still continued to struggle with his faintness. She then began to 
pour a small quantity into the nearest cup that she could find, 
wisely judging, that, upon a person so much unaccustomed to the 
use of spirituous liquors, a little might produce a strong efi'ect. 
But the patient signed to her impatiently to fill the cup, which 
might hold more than the third of an English pint measure, up to 
the very brim, and swallowed it down without hesitation. 

" Now the saunts above have a care on us ! " said Swertha ; " he 
will be drunk as weel as mad, and wha is to guide him then, I 
wonder ? " 
, But Mertoun's breath and colour returned, without the slightest 
symptom of intoxication ; on the contrary, Swertha afterwards 
reported, that, " although she had always had a firm opinion in 
favour of a dram, yet she. never saw one work such miracles — he 
spoke mair like a man of the middle world, than she had ever 
heard him since she had entered his service." 

" Swertha," he said, "jou are right in this matter, and I was 
wrong. — Go down to the Ranzelman directly, tell him to come and 
speak with me, without an instant's delay, and bring me special 
word what boats and people he can command ; I will employ them 
all in the search, and they shall be plentifully rewarded." 

Stimulated by the spur which maketh the old woman prover- 
bially to trot, Swertha posted down to the hamlet, with all the 
speed of threescore, rejoicing that her sympathetic feelings were 
likely to achieve their own reward, having given rise to a quest 
which promised to be so lucrative, and in the profits whereof she 
was determined to have her share, shouting out as she went, and 


long before she got within hearing, the names of Niel Ronaldson, 
Sweyn Erickson, and the other friends and confederates who were 
interested in her mission. To say the truth, notwithstanding that 
the good dame really felt a deep interest in Mordaunt Mertoun, 
and was mentally troubled on account of his absence, perhaps few 
things would have disappointed her more than if he had at this 
moment started up in her path safe and sound, and rendered 
unnecessary, by his appearance, the expense and the bustle of 
searching after him. 

Soon did Swertha accomplish her business in the village, and 
adjust with the senators of the township her own little share of 
per centage upon the profits likely to accrue on her mission ; and 
speedily did she return to Jarlshof, with Niel Ronaldson by her 
side, schooling him to the best of her skill in all the peculiarities of 
her master. 

" Aboon a' things," she said, " never make him wait for an 
answer ; and speak loud and distinct, as if you were hailing a 
boat, — for he downa bide to say the same thing twice over ; and if 
he asks about distance, ye may make leagues for miles, for he 
kens naething about the face of the earth that he lives upon ; and 
if he speak of siller, ye may ask dollars for shillings, for he minds 
them nae mair than sclate-stanes." 

Thus tutored, Niel Ronaldson was introduced into the presence 
of Mertoun, but was utterly confounded to find that he could not 
act upon the system of deception which had been projected. 
When he attempted, by some exaggeration of distance and peril, 
to enhance the hire of the boats and of the men, (for the searcli 
was to be by sea and land,) he found himself at once cut short by 
Mertoun, who showed not only the most perfect knowledge of the 
country, but of distances, tides, currents, and all belonging to the 
navigation of those seas, although these were topics with whicli he 
had hitherto appeared to be totally unacquainted. The Ranzel- 
man, therefore, trembled when they came to speak of the recom- 
pense to be afforded fo: heir exertions in the search ; for it was 
not more unhkely that IViertoun should be well informed of what 
was just and proper upon this head than upon others ; and Niel 
remembered the storm of his fury, when, at an early period after he 
had settled at Jarlshof, he drove Swertha and Sweyn Erickson 
from his presence. As, however, he stood hesitating betwixt the 
opposite fears of asking too much or too little, Mertoun stopped 
his mouth, and ended his uncertainty, by promising him a recom- 
pense beyond what he dared have ventured to ask, with an addi- 
tional gratuity, in case they returned with t^ie pleasing intelligence 
that his son was safe. 


When this great point was settled, Niel Ronaldson, like a man 
of conscience, began to consider earnestly the various places 
where search should be made after the young man ; and having 
undertaken faithfully that the enquiry should be prosecuted at all 
the houses of the gentry, both in this and the neighbouring islands, 
he added, that, " after all, if his honour would not be angry, there 
was ane not far off, that, if any body dared speer her a question, 
and if she liked to answer it, could tell more about Maister Mor- 
daunt than any body else could.— Ye will ken wha I mean, 
Swertha ? Her that was down at the haven this morning." Thus 
he concluded, addressing himself with a mysterious look to the 
housekeeper, which she answered with a nod and a wink. 

" How mean you ? " said Mertoun ; " speak out, short and open 
— whom do you speak of? " 

"It is Noma of the Fitful-head," said Swertha, "that the 
Ranzelman is thinking about ; for she has gone up to Saint 
Ringan's Kirk this morning on business of her own." 

" And what can this person know of my son ? " said Mertoun ; 
" she is, I believe, a wandering madwoman, or impostor." 

" If she wanders," said Swertha, " it is for nae lack of means at 
hame, and that is weel known — plenty of a' thing has she of her 
ain, forby that the Fowd himsell would let her want naething." 

" But what is that to my son ? " said Mertoun, impatiently. 

" I dinna ken — she took unco pleasure in Maister Mordaunt 
from the time she first saw him, and mony a braw thing she gave 
him at ae time or another, forby the gowd chain that hangs about 
his bonny craig — folk say it is of fairy gold — I kenna what gold it 
is, b,ut Bryce Snailsfoot says, that the value will mount to an 
hundred pounds English, and that is nae deaf nuts." 

" Go, Ronaldson," said Mertoun, " or else send some one, to 
seek this woman out — if you think there be a chance of her know- 
ing anything of my son." 

" She kens a' thing that happens in thae islands," said Niel 
Ronaldson, " muckle sooner than other folk, and that is Heaven's 
truth. But as to going to the kirk, or the kirkyard, to speer after 
her, there is not a man in Zetland will do it, for meed or for money 
—and that's Heaven's truth as weel as the other." 

" Cowardly, superstitious fools ! " said Mertoun. — " But give me 
my cloak, Swertha. — This woman has been at Burgh- Westra — 
she is related to Troll's family — she may know something of 
Mordaunt's absence, and its cause — I will seek her myself — She is 
at the Cross-kirk, you say ? " 

" No, not at the Cross-kirk, but at the auld Kirk of Saint 
Ringan's — it's a dowie bit, and far frae being canny ; and if your 


honour," added Swertha, " wad walk by my rule, I wad wait until 
she came back, and no trouble her when she may be mair busied 
wi' the dead, for onything that we ken, than she is wi' the living. 
The like of her carena to have other folk's een on them when they 
are, gude sain us ! doing their ain particular turns." 

Mertoun made no answer, but throwing his cloak loosely around 
him, (for the day was misty, with passing showers,) and leaving the 
decayed mansion of Jarlshof, he walked at a pace much faster than 
was usual with him, taking the direction of the ruinous church, 
which stood, as he well knew, within three or four miles of his 

The Ranzelman and Swertha stood gazing after him in silence, 
until he was fairly out of ear-shot, when, looking seriously on each 
other, and shaking their sagacious heads in the same boding 
degree of vibration, they uttered their remarks in the same breath. 

" Fools are aye fleet and fain," said Swertha. 

" Fey folk run fast," added the Ranzelman ; " and the thing that 
we are born to, we cannot win by. — I have known them that tried 
to stop folk that were fey. You have heard of Helen Emberson of 
Camsey, how she stopped all the boles and windows about the 
house, that her gudeman might not see daylight, and rise to the^ 
Haaf-fishing, because she feared foul weather ; and how the boat 
he should have sailed in was lost in the Roost ; and how she came 
back, rejoicing in her gudeman's safety — but ne'er may care, for 
there she found him drowned in his own masking-fat, within the 
wa's of his ain biggin ; and moreover "— — 

But here Swertha reminded the Ranzelman that he must go 
down to the haven to get off the fishing-boats ; " for both that my 
heart is sair for the bonny lad, and that I am fear'd he cast up of 
his ain a^ccord before you are at sea ; and, as I have often told ye, 
my master may lead, but he winna drive ; and if ye do not his 
bidding, and get out to sea, the never a bodle of boat-hire will 
ye see." 

" Weel, weel, good dame," said the Ranzelman, " we will launch 
as fast as we can ; and by good luck, neither Clawson's boat, nor 
Peter Grot's, is out to the Haaf this morning, for a rabbit ran 
across the path as they were going on board, and they came back 
like wise men, kenning they wad be called to other wark this day. 
And a marvel it is to think, Swertha, how few real judicious men 
are left in this land. There is our great Udaller is weel eneugh 
when he is fresh, but he makes ower mony voyages in his ship and 
his yawl to be lang sae ; and now, they say, his daughter, Mistress 
Minna, is sair out of sorts. — Then there is Noma kens muckle 
mair than other folk, but wise woman ye cannot call her. Our 


tacksman here, Maister Mertoun, his wit is sprung in the bowsprit, 
1 doubt — his son is a daft gowk ; and I ken few of consequence 
hereabouts — excepting always myself, and maybe you, Swertha — 
but what may, in some sense or other, be called fules." 

" That may be, Niel Ronaldson," said the dame ; " but if you 
do not hasten the faster to the shore, you will lose tide ; and, as I 
said to my master some short time syne, wha will be the fule 


I do love these ancient ruins — 
We never tread upon them but we set 
Our foot upon sonie reverend history ; 
And, questionless, here, in this open court, 
(Which now lies naked to the injuries 
Of stormy weather,) some men lie interr'd. 
Loved the Church so well, and gave so largely to it, 
They thought it should have canopied their bones 
Till doomsday ; — but all things have their end — 
Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men. 
Must have like death which we have. 

Duchess of Malfy. 

The ruinous church of Saint Ninian had, in its time, enjoyed 
great celebrity ; for that mighty system of Roman superstition, 
which spread its roots over all Europe, had not failed to extend 
them even to this remote archipelago, and Zetland had, in the 
Catholic times, her saints, her shrines, and her relics, which, 
though little known elsewhere, attracted the homage, and com- 
manded the observance, of the simple inhabitants of Thule. Their 
devotion to this church of Saint Ninian, or, as he was provincially 
termed, Saint Ringan, situated, as the edifice was, close to the 
sea-beach, and serving, in many points, as a landmark to their 
boats, was particularly obstinate, and was connected with so much 
superstitious ceremonial and credulity, that the reformed clergy 
thought it best, by an order of the Church Courts, to prohibit all 
spiritual service within its walls, as tending to foster the rooted 
faith of the simple and rude people around in saint-worship, and 
other erroneous doctrines of the Romish Church. 

After the Church of Saint Ninian had been thus denounced as a 
seat of idolatry, and desecrated of course, the public worship was 

254 THK I'lRATK. 

transferred to another church ; and the roof, with its lead and its 
rafters, having been stripped from the little rude old Gothic build- 
ing, it was left in the wilderness to the mercy of the elements. The 
fury of the uncontrolled winds, which howled along an exposed 
space, resembling that which we have described at Jarlshof, very 
soon choked up nave and aisle, and, on the north-west side, which 
was chiefly exposed to the wind, hid the outside walls more than 
half way up with mounds of drifted sand, over which the gable- 
ends of the building, with the little belfry, which was built above 
its eastern angle, arose in ragged and shattered nakedness of ruin. 

Yet, deserted as it was, the Kirk of Saint Ringan still retained 
some semblance of the ancient homage formerly rendered there. 
The rude and ignorant fishermen of Dunrossness observed a 
practice, of which they themselves had wellmgh forgotten the 
origin, and from which the Protestant Clergy in vain endeavoured 
to deter them. When their boats were in extreme peril, it was 
common amongst them to propose to vow an awmoits, as they 
termed it, that is, an alms, to Saint Ringan ; and when the danger 
was over, they never failed to absolve themselves of their vow, by 
coming singly and secretly to the old church, and putting off their 
shoes and stockings at the entrance of the churchyard, walking 
thrice around the ruins, observing that they did so in the course of 
the sun. When the circuit was accomplished for the third time, 
the votary dropped his offeringj usually a small silver coin, through 
the muUions of a lanceolated window, which opened into a side 
aisle, and then retired, avoiding carefully to look behind him till he 
was beyond the precincts which had once been hallowed ground ; 
for it was believed that the skeleton of the saint received the 
offering in his bony hand, and showed his ghastly death's-head at. 
the window into lyhich it was thrown. 

Indeed, the scene was rendered more appalling to weak and 
ignorant minds, because the same stormy and eddying winds, 
which, on the one side of the church, threatened to bury the ruins 
with sand, and had, in fact, heaped it up in huge quantities, so as 
almost to hide the side-wall with its buttresses, seemed in other 
places bent on uncovering the graves of those who had been laid 
to their long rest on the south-eastern quarter ; and, after an un- 
usually hard gale, the coffins, and sometimes the very corpses, of 
those who had been interred without the usual cerements, were dis- 
covered, in a ghastly manner, to the eyes of the living. 

It was to this desolated place of worship that the elder Mertoun 
now proceeded, though without any of those religious or super- 
stitious purposes with which the church of Saint Ringan was 
usually approached. He was totally without the superstitious fears 


of the country, — nay, from the sequestered and sullen manner in 
which he lived, withdrawing himself from human society even when 
assembled for worship, it was the general opinion that he erred on 
the more fatal side, and believed rather too little than too much o 
that which the Church receives and enjoins to Christians. 

As he entered the little bay, on the shore, and almost on the 
beach of which the ruins are situated, he could not help pausing 
for an instant, and becoming sensible that the scene, as calculated 
to operate on human feelings, had been selected with much judg- 
ment as the site of a religious house. In front lay the sea, into 
which two headlands, which formed the extremities of the bay, pro- 
jected their gigantic causeways of dark and sable rocks, on the 
ledges of which the gulls, scouries, and other sea-fowl, appeared 
like flakes of snow ; while, upon the lower ranges of the cliff, 
stood whole lines of cormorants, drawn up alongside of each other, 
like soldiers in their battle array, and other living thing was there 
none to see. The sea, although not in a tempestuous state, was 
disturbed enough to rush on these capes with a sound like distant 
thunder, and the billows, which rose in sheets of foam half way up 
these sable rocks, formed a contrast of colouring equallj^ striking 
and awful. 

Betwixt the extremities or capes, of these projecting headlands, 
there rolled, on the day when'Mertoun visited the scene, a deep 
and dense aggregation of clouds, through which no human eye 
could penetrate, and which, bounding the vision, and excluding all 
view of the distant ocean, rendered it no unapt representation of 
the sea in the Vision of Mirza, whose extent was concealed by 
vapours, and clouds, and storms. The ground rising steeply from 
the sea-beach, permitting no view into the interior of the country, 
appeared a scene of irretrievable barrenness, where scrubby and 
stunted heath, intermixed with the long bent, or coarse grass, which 
first covers sandy soils, were the only vegetables that could be seen. 
Upon a natural elevation, which rose above the beach in the very 
bottom of the bay, and receded a little from the sea, so as to be 
without reach of the waves, arose the half-buried ruin which we 
have already described, surrounded by a wasted, half-ruinous, and 
mouldering wall, which, breached in several places, served still to 
divide the precincts of the cemetery. The mariners who were 
driven by accident into this solitary bay, pretended that the church 
was occasionally observed to be full of lights, and, from that 
circumstance, were used to prophesy shipwrecks and deaths by 

As Mertoun approached near to the chapel, he adopted, in- 
sensibly, and perhaps without much premeditation, measures to 


avoid being himself seen, until he came close under the walls of 
the burial-ground, which he approached, as it chanced, on that 
side where the sand was blowing from the graves, in the manner 
we have described. 

Here, looking through one of the gaps in the wall which time 
had made, he beheld the person whom he sought, occupied in a 
manner which assorted well with the ideas popularly entertained of 
her character, but which was otherwise sufficiently extraordinary. 

She was employed beside a rude monument, on one side of which 
was represented the rough outline of a cavalier, or knight, on horse- 
back, while, on the other, appeared a shield, with the armorial 
bearings so defaced as not to be intelligible ; which escutcheon 
was suspended by one angle, contrary to the modern custom, which 
usually places them straight and upright. At the foot of this piUar 
was believed to repose, as Mertoun had formerly heard, the bones 
of Ribolt Troil, one of the remote ancestors of Magnus, and a man 
renowned for deeds of valorous emprize in the fifteenth century. 
From the grave of this warrior Noma of the Fitful-head seemed 
busied in shovelling the sand, an easy task where it was so light and 
loose ; so that it seemed plain that she would shortly complete'what 
the rude winds had begun, and make bare the bones which lay 
there interred. As she laboured, she muttered her magic song ; 
for without the Runic rhyme no form of northern superstition was 
ever performed. We have perhaps preserved too many examples 
of these incantations ; but we cannot help attempting to translate 
that which follows : — 

" Champion, famed for warlike toil, 
Art thou silent, Ribolt Troil? 
Sand, and dust, and pebbly stones, 
Are leaving bare thy giant bones. 
Who dai-ed touch the wild-bear's skin 
Ye slumber'd on while life was in ?— 
A woman now, or babe, may come. 
And cast the covering from thy tomb. 

" Yet be not wrathful, Chief, nor blight 
Mine eyes or ears with sound or sight ! 
I come not, with unhallow'd tread. 
To wake the slumbers of the dead, 
Or lay thy giant relics bare ; 
But what I seek thou well canst spare. 
Be it to my hand allow'd. 
To shear a merk's weight from thy shroud ; 
Yet leave thee sheeted lead enough 
To shield thy bones from weather rough. 


" See, I draw my magic knife — 
Never while thou wert in life 
Laid'st thou still for sloth or fear, 
When point and edge were glittering near ; 
See, the cerements now I sever — 
Waken now, or sleep for ever ! 
Thou wilt not wake ? the deed is done ! — 
The prize I sought is fairly won. 

" Thanks, Ribolt, thanks, — for this the sea 
Shall smooth its ruffled crest for thee, — 
And while afar its billows foam, 
Subside to peace near Ribolt's tomb. 
Thanks, Ribolt, thanks — for this the might 
Of wild winds raging at their height, 
When to thy place of slumber nigh, 
Shall soften to a lullaby. 

" She, the dame of doubt and dread. 
Noma of the Fitful-head, 
Mighty in her own despite — 
Miserable in her might ; 
In despair and frenzy great, — 
In her greatness desolate ; 
Wisest, wickedest who lives, 
Well can keep the word she gives." 

While Noma chanted the first part of this rhyme, she com- 
pleted the task of laying bare a part of the leaden coffin of the 
ancient warrior, and severed from it, with much caution and 
apparent awe, a portion of the metal. She then reverentially threw 
back the sand upon the coffin ; and by the time she had finished 
her song, no trace remained that the secrets of the sepulchre had 
been violated. 

Mertoun remained gazing on her from behind the churchyard 
wall during the whole ceremony, not from any impression of 
veneration for her or her employment, but because he conceived 
that to interrupt a madwoman in her act of madness, was not 
the best way to obtain from her such intelligence as she might 
have to impart. Meanwhile he had full time to consider her figure, 
although her face was obscured by her dishevelled hair, and by the 
hood of her dark mantle, which permitted no more to be visible 
than a Druidess would probably have exhibited at the celebration 
of her mystical rites. Mertoun had often heard of Noma before ; 
nay, it is most probable that he might have seen her repeatedly, 
for she had been in the vicinity of Jarlshof more than once since 



his residence there. But the absurd stories which were in circulation 
respecting her, prevented his paying any attention to a person 
whom he regarded as either an impostor or a madwoman, or a com- 
pound of both. Yet, now that his attention was, by circumstances, 
involuntarily fixed upon her person and deportment, he could not 
help acknowledging to himself that she was either a complete 
enthusiast, or rehearsed her part so admirably, that no Pythoness 
of ancient times could have excelled her. The dignity and 
solemnity of her gesture,— the sonorous, yet impressive tone of 
voice with which she addressed the departed spirit whose mortal 
relics she ventured to disturb, were such as failed not to make an 
impression upon him, careless and indifferent as he generally 
appeared to all that went on around him. But no sooner was her 
singular occupation terminated, than, entering the churchyard with 
some difficulty, by clambering over the disjointed ruins of the wall, 
he made Noma aware of his presence. Far from starting, or 
expressing the least surprise at his appearance in a place so soli- 
tary, she said, in a tone that seemed to intimate that he had been 
expected, " So, — you have sought me at last ? ' 

"And found you," replied Mertoun, judging he would best intro- 
duce the enquires he had to make, by assuming a tone which 
corresponded to her own. 

" Yes ! " she replied, " found me you have, and in the place where 
all men must meet — amid the tabernacles of the dead." 

" Here we must, indeed, meet at last," replied Mertoun, glanc- 
ing his eyes on the desolate scene around, where headstones, half 
covered in sand, and others, from which the same wind had stripped 
the soil on which they rested, covered with inscriptions, and 
sculptured with the emblems of mortality, were the most con- 
spicuous objects, — " here, as in the house of death, all men must 
meet at length ; and happy those that come soonest to the 
quiet haven." 

" He that dares desire this haven," said Noma, " must have 
steered a steady course in the voyage of life. / dare not hope for 
such quiet harbour. Barest thou expect it ? or has the course thou 
hast kept deserved it ? " 

" It matters not to my present purpose," replied Mertoun ; " I 
have to ask vou what tidings you know of my son Mordaunt 
Mertoun ? " 

" A father," replied the sibyl, " asks of a stranger what tidings she 
has of his son ! How should I know aught of him ? the cormorant 
says not to the mallard, where is my brood ? " 

"Lay aside this useless affectation of mystery," said Mertoun ; 
" with the vulgar and ignorant it has its effect, but upon me it is 


thrown away. The people of Jarlshof have told me that you do 
know, or may know, something of Mordaunt Mertoun, who has not 
returned home after the festival of Saint John's, held in the house 
of your relative, Magnus Troil. Give me such information, if 
indeed ye have it to give ; and it shalj be recompensed, if the 
means of recompense are in my power." 

" The wide round of earth," replied Noma, " holds nothing that I 
would call a recompense for the slightest word that I throw away 
upon a living ear. But for thy son, if thou wouldst see him in life, 
repair to the approaching Fair of Kirkwall, in Orkney." 

" And wherefore thither ? " said Mertoun ; " I know he had no 
purpose in that direction." 

" We drive on the stream of fate," answered Noma, " without 
oar or rudder. You had no purpose this morning of visiting the 
Kirk of Saint Ringan, yet you are here ; — you had no purpose 
but a minute hence of being at Kirkwall, and yet you will go 

" Not unless the cause is more distinctly explained to me. I 
am no believer, ^ dame, in those who assert your supernatural 

" You shall believe in them ere we part," said Noma. " As yet 
you know but little of me, nor shall you know more. But I know 
enough of you, and could convince you with one word that I do so." 

" Convince me, then," said Mertoun ; " for unless I am so 
convinced, there is little chance of my following your counsel." 

" Mark, then," said Noma, " what I have to say on your son's 
score, else what I shall say to you on your own will banish every 
other thought from your memory. You shall go to the approach- 
ing Fair at Kirkwall ; and, on the fifth day of the Fair, you shall 
walk, at the hour of noon, in the outer aisle of the Cathedral of 
Saint Magnus, and there you shall meet a person who will give you 
tidings of your son." 

" You must speak more distinctly, dame," returned Mertoun, 
scornfully, " if you hope that I should follow your counsel. I have 
been fooled in my time by women, but never so grossly as you seem 
willing to gull me." 

" Hearken, then ! " said the old woman. " The word which I 
speak shall touch the nearest secret of thy life, and thrill thee 
through nerve and bone." 

So saying, she whispered a word into Mertoun's ear, the effect of 
which seemed almost magical. He remained fixed and motionless 
with surprise, as, waving her arm slowly aloft, with an air of 
superiority and triumph. Noma glided from him, turned round a 
corner of the ruins, and was soon out of sight. 

s 2 


Mertoun offered not to follow, or to trace her. " We fly from 
our fate in vain ! " he said, as he began to recover himself; and 
turning, he left behind him the desolate ruins with their cemetery. 
As he looked back from the very last point at which the church 
was visible, he saw the figure of Noma, muffled in her mantle, 
standing on the very summit of the ruined tower, and stretching 
out in the sea-breeze something which resembled a white pennon, 
or flag. A feeling of horror, similar to that excited by her last 
words, again thrilled through his bosom, and he hastened onwards 
with unwonted speed, until he had left the church of Saint Ninian, 
with its bay of sand, far behind him. 

Upon his arrival at Jarlshof, the alteration in his countenance 
was so great, that Swertha conjectured he was about to fall into 
one of those fits of deep melancholy which she termed his dark 

" And what better could be expected," thought Swertha, "when 
he must needs go visit Noma of the Fitful-head, when she was in 
the haunted Kirk of Saint Ringan's ? " 

But without testifying any other symptoms of an alienated mind, 
than that of deep and sullen dejection, her master acquainted her 
with his intention to go to the Fair of Kirkwall, — a thing so con- 
trary to his usual habits, that the housekeeper wellnigh refused to 
credit her ears. Shortly after, he heard, with apparent indifference, 
the accounts returned by the different persons who had been sent 
out in quest of Mordaunt, by sea and land, who all of them returned 
without any tidings. The equanimity with which Mertoun heard 
the report of their bad success, convinced Swertha still more firmly, 
that, in his interview with Noma, that issue had been predicted to 
him by the sibyl whom he had consulted. 

The township were yet more surprised, when their tacksman, Mr. 
Mertoun, as if on some sudden resolution, made preparations to 
visit Kirkwall during the Fair, although he had hitherto avoided 
sedulously all such places of public resort. Swertha puzzled herself 
a good deal, without being able to penetrate this mystery ; and 
vexed herself stiU more concerning the fate of her young master. 
But her concern was much softened by the deposit of a sum of 
money, seeming, however moderate in itself, a treasure in her eyes, 
which her master put into her hands, acquainting her at the same 
time, that he had taken his passage for Kirkwall, in a, small bark 
belonging to the proprietor of the island of Mousa. 



Nae langer she wept, — ^her tears were a' spent, — 
Despair it was come, and she thought it content ; 
She thought it content, but her cheek it grew pale. 
And she droop'd, like a lily broke down by the hail. 

Contimtatioti of Auld Robin Gray.* 

The condition of Minna much resembled that of the village 
heroine in Lady Ann Lindsay's beautiful ballad. Her natural firm- 
ness of mind prevented her from sinking under tTie pressure of the 
horrible secret, which haunted her while awake, and was yet more 
tormenting during her broken and hurried slumbers. There is no 
grief so dreadful as that which we dare not communicate, and in 
which we can neither ask nor desire sympathy ; and when to this 
is added the burden of a guilty mystery to an innocent bosom, there 
is little wonder that Minna's health should have sunk under the 

To the friends around, her habits and manners, nay, her temper, 
seemed altered to such an extraordinary degree, that it is no wonder 
that some should have ascribed the change to witchcraft, and some 
to incipient madness. She became unable to bear the solitude in 
which she formerly delighted to spend her time ; yet when she 
hurried into society, it was without either joining in, or attending 
to, wl\at passed. Generally she appeared wrapped in sad, and even 
sullen abstraction, until her attention was suddenly roused by some 
casual mention of the name of Cleveland, or of Mordaunt Mertoun, 
at which she started, with the horror of one who sees the lighted 
match applied to a charged mine, and expects to be instantly 
involved in the effects of the explosion. And when she observed 
that the discovery was not yet made, it was so far from being a 
consolation, that she almost wished the worst were known, rather 
than endure the continued agonies of suspense. 

Her conduct towards her sister was so variable, yet uniformly so 
painful t9 the kind-hearted Brenda, that it seemed to all around, 
one of the strongest features of her malady. Sometimes Minna was 
impelled to seek her sister's company, as if by the consciousness 
that they were common sufferers by a misfortune of which she her- 
self alone could grasp the extent ; and then suddenly the feeling of 
the injury which Brenda had received through the supposed agency 
of Cleveland, made her unable to bear her presence, and still less to 
endure the consolation which her sister, mistaking the nature of her 


raalady, vainly endeavoured to administer. Frequently, also, did 
it happen, that, while Brenda was imploring her sister to take 
comfort, she incautiously touched upon some subject which thrilled 
to the very centre of her soul ; so that, unable to conceal her agony, 
Minna would rush hastily from the apartment. All these different 
moods, though they too much resembled, to one who knew not their 
real source, the caprices of unkind estrangement, Brenda endured 
with such prevailing and unruffled gentleness of disposition, that 
Minna was frequently moved to shed floods of tears upon her neck; 
and, perhaps, the moments in which she did so, though embittered 
by the recollection that her fatal secret concerned the destruction 
of Brenda's happiness as well as her own, were still, softened as 
they were by sisterly affection, the most endurable moments of this 
most miserable period of her life. 

The effects of the alternations of moping melancholy, fearful 
agitation, and bursts of nervous feeling, were soon visible on the 
poor young woman's face and person. She became pale and 
emaciated ; her eye lost the steady quiet look of happiness and 
innocence, and was alternately dim and wild, as she was acted upon 
by a general feeling of her own distressful condition, or by some 
quicker and more poignant sense of agony. Her very features 
seemed to change, and become sharp and eager, and her voice, 
which, in its ordinary tones, was low and placid, now sometimes 
sunk in indistinct mutterings, and sometimes was raised beyond 
the natural key, in hasty and abrupt exclamations. When in com- 
pany with others, she was sullenly silent, and, when she ventured 
into solitude, was observed (for it was now thought very proper to 
watch her on such occasions) to speak much to herself. 

The pharmacy of the islands was in vain resorted to by Minna's 
anxious father. Sages of both sexes, who knew the virtues of every 
herb which drinks the dew, and augmented those virtues by words 
of might, used while they prepared and applied the medicines, were 
attended with no benefit ; and Magnus, in the utmost anxiety, was 
at last induced to have recourse to the advice of his kinswoman, 
Noma of the Fitful-head, although, owing to circumstances noticed 
in the course of the story, there was at this time some estrangement 
between them. His first application was in vain. Noma was then 
at her usual place of residence, upon the sea-coast, near the head- 
land from which she usually took her designation ; but, although 
Eric Scambester himself brought the message, she refused positively 
to see him, or to return any answer. 

Magnus was angry at the slight put upon his messenger and 
message, but his anxiety on Minna's account, as well as the respect 
which he had for Noma's real misfortunes and imputed wisdom and 


power, prevented him from indulging, on the present occasion, his 
usual irritability of disposition. On the contrary, he determined to 
make an application to his kinswoman in his own person. He 
kept his purpose, however, to himself, and only desired his daughters 
to be in readiness to attend him upon a visit to a relation whom he 
had not seen for some time, and directed them, at the same time, 
to carry some provisions along with them, as the journey was 
distant, and they might perhaps find their friend unprovided. 

Unaccustomed to ask explanations of his pleasure, and hoping 
that exercise and the amusement of such an excursion might be of 
service to her sister, Brenda, upon whom all household and family 
charges now devolved, caused the necessary preparations to be 
made for the expedition ; and, on the next morning, they were 
engaged in tracing the long and tedious course of beach and of 
moorland, which, only varied by occasional patches of oats and 
barley, where a little ground had been selected for cultivation, 
divided Burgh-Westra from the north-western extremity of the 
Mainland, (as the principal island is called,) which terminates in 
the cape called Fitful-head, as the south-western point ends in the 
cape of Sumburgh. 

On they went, through wild and over wold, the Udaller bestriding 
a strong, square-made, well-barrelled palfrey, of Norwegian breed, 
somewhat taller, and yet as stout, as the ordinary ponies of the 
country ; while Minna and Brenda, famed, amongst other accom- 
plishments, for their horsemanship, rode two of those hardy animals, 
which, bred and reared with more pains than is usually bestowed, 
showed, both by the neatness of their form and their activity, that 
the race, so much and so carelessly neglected, is capable of being 
improved into beauty without losing anything of its spirit or vigour. 
They were attended by two servants on horseback, and two on foot, 
secure that the last circumstance would be no delay to their journey, 
because a great part of the way was so rugged, or so marshy, that 
the horses could only move at a foot pace ; and that, wheneverthey 
met with any considerable tract of hard and even ground, they had 
only to borrow from the nearest herd of ponies the use of a couple 
for the accommodation of these pedestrians. 

The journey was a melancholy one, and little conversation passed, 
except when the Udaller, pressed by impatience aijd vexation, urged 
his pony to a quick pace, and again, recollecting Minna's weak state 
of health, slackened to a walk, and reiterated enquiries how she felt 
herself, and whether the fatigue was not too much for her. At 
noon the party halted, and p.artook of some refreshment, for which 
they had made ample provision, beside a pleasant spring, the pure- 
ness of whose waters, however, did not suit the Udaller's palate, 


until qualified by a liberal addition of right Nantz. After he had a 
second, yea and a third time, filled a large silver traveUing-cup, 
embossed with a German Cupid smoking a pipe, and a German 
Bacchus emptying his flask down the throat of a bear, he began to 
become more talkative than vexation had permitted him to be 
during the early part of their journey, and thus addressed his 
daughters : — 

" Well, children, we are within a league or two of Noma's 
dwelling, and we shall soon see how the old spell-mutterer will 
receive us." 

Minna interrupted her father with a faint exclamation, while 
Brenda, surprised to a great degree, exclaimed, " Is it then to 
Noma that we are to make this visit ? — Heaven forbid ! " 

" And wherefore should Heaven forbid ? " said the Udaller, 
knitting his brows ; "wherefore, I would gladly know, should 
Heaven forbid me to visit my kinswoman, whose skill may be of 
use to your sister, if any woman in Zetland, or man either, can be 
of service to her ? — You are a fool, Brenda, — your sister has more 
sense. — Cheer up, Minna ! — thou wert ever wont to like her songs 
and stories, and used to hang about her neck, when little Brenda 
cried and ran from her like a Spanish merchantman from a Dutch 

"I wish she may not frighten me as much to-day, father," 
replied Brenda, desirous of indulging Minna in her taciturnity, and 
at the same time to amuse her father by sustaining the conversation ; 
" I have heard so much of her dwelling, that I am rather alarmed 
at the thought of going there uninvited." 

" Thou art a fool," said Magnus, " to think that a visit from her 
kinsfolks can ever come amiss to a kind, hearty, Hialtland heart, 
like my cousin Noma's. — And, now I think on't, I will be sworn 
that is the reason why she would not receive Eric Scambester !— 
It is many a long day since I have seen her chimney smoke, and I 
have never carried you thither — She hath indeed some right to call 
me unkind. But I will tell her the truth — and that is, that though 
such be the fashion, I do not think it is fair or honest to eat up the 
substance of lone women-folks, as we do that of our brother Udallers, 
when we roll about from house to house in the winter season, until 
we gather like a snowball, and eat up all wherever we come." 

" There is no fear of our putting Noma to any distress just now," 
replied Brenda, " for I have ample provision of every thing that we 
can possibly need — fish, and bacon, and salted mutton, and dried 
geese — more than we could eat in a week, besides enough of hquor 
for you, father." 

" Right, right, my girl ! " said the Udaller ; " a well-found ship 


makes a merry voyage — so we shall only want the kindness of 
Noma's roof, and a little bedding for you ; for, as to myself, my sea- 
cloak, and honest dry boards of Norway deal, suit me better than 
your eider-down cushions and mattresses. So that Noma will have 
the pleasure of seeing us without having a stiver's worth of trouble." 

" I wish she may think it a pleasure, sir," replied Brenda. 

"Why, what does the girl mean, in the name of the Martyr?" 
replied Magnus Troil ; " dost thou think my kinswoman is a 
heathen, who will not rejoice to see her own flesh and blood ? — I 
would I were as sure of a good year's fishing ! — No, no ! I only fear 
we may find her from home at present, for she is often a wanderer, 
and all with thinking over much on what can never be helped." 

Minna sighed deeply as her father spoke, and the Udaller went 
on : — 

" Dost thou sigh at that, my girl ? — why, 'tis the fault of half the 
world — let it never be thine own, Minna." 

Another suppressed sigh intimated that the caution came too 

" I believe you are afraid of my cousin as well as Brenda is,'' 
said the Udaller, gazing on her pale countenance ; " if so, speak 
the word, and we will return back agaii^ as if we had the wind on 
our quarter, and were running fifteen knots by the line." 

"Do, for Heaven's sake, sister, let us return! "said Brenda, 
imploringly ; " you know — you remember — yoii must be well aware 
that Noma can do nought to help you." 

" It is but too true," said Minna, in a subdued voice ; " but I 
know not — she may answer a question — a question that only the 
miserable dare ask of the miserable." 

"Nay, my kinswoman is no miser," answered the Udaller, who 
only heard the beginning of the word ; " a good income she has, 
both in Orkney and here, and many a fair lispund of butter is paid 
to her. But the poor have the best share of it, and shame fall the 
Zetlander who begrudges them ; the rest she spends, I wot not how, 
in her journeys through the islands. But you will laugh to see her 
house, and Nick Strumpfer, whom she calls Pacolet — many folks 
think Nick is the devil ; but he is flesh and blood, like any of us — 
his father lived in Graemsay. — I shall be glad to see Nick again." 

While the Udaller thus ran on, Brenda, who, in recompense for 
a less portion of imagination than her sister, was gifted with sound 
common sense, was debating with herself the probable effect of this 
visit on her sister's health. She came finally to the resolution of 
speaking with her father aside, upon the first occasion which their 
journey should afford. To him she determined to communicate 
the whole particulars of their nocturnal interview with Noma, — to 


which, among other agitating causes, she attributed the depression 
of Minna's spirits,— and then make himself the judge whether he 
ought to persist m his visit to a person so singular, and expose his 
daughter to all the shock which her nerves might possibly receive 
from the interview. 

Justus she had arrived at this conclusion, her father, dashing the 
crumbs from his laced waistcoat with one hand, and receiving with 
the other a fourth cup of brandy and water, drank devoutly to the 
success of their voyage, and ordered all to be in readiness to set 
forward. Whilst they were saddling their ponies, Brenda, with 
some difficulty, contrived to make her father understand she wished 
to speak with him in private— no small surprise to the honest 
Udaller, who, though secret as the grave in the very few things 
where he considered secrecy as of importance, was so far from 
practising mystery in general, that his most important affairs were 
often discussed by him openly in presence of his whole family, 
servants included. 

But far greater was his astonishment, when, remaining purposely 
with his daughter Brenda, a little in the wake, as he termed it, of 
the other riders, he heard the whole account of Noma's visit to 
Burgh- Westra, and of the communication with which she had then 
astounded his daughters. For a long time he could utter nothing 
but interjections, and ended with a thousand curses on his kins- 
woman's folly in telling his daughters such a history of horror. 

" I have often heard," said the Udaller, " that she was quite mad, 
with all her wisdom, and all her knowledge of the seaons ; and, by 
the bones of my namesake, the Martyr, I begin now to believe it 
most assuredly ! I know no more how to steer than if I had lost my 
compass. Had I known this before we set out, I think I had re- 
mained at home ; but now that we have come so far, and that 
Noma expects us " 

" Expects us, father ! " said Brenda ; " how can that be 
possible ? " 

" Why, that I know not— but she can tell how the wind is to 
blow, can tell which way we are designing to ride. She must not 
be provoked ; — perhaps she has done my family this ill for the 
words I had with her about that lad Mordaunt Mertoun, and if so, 
she can undo it again ; — and so she shall, or I will know the cause 
wherefore. But I will try fair words first." 

Finding it thus settled that they were to go forward, Brenda en- 
deavoured next to learn from her father whether Noma's tale was 
founded in reality. He shook his head, groaned bitterly, and, in a 
few words, acknowledged that the whole so far as concerned her 
intrigue with a stranger, and her father's death, of which she became 


the accidental and most innocent cause, was a matter of sad and 
indisputable truth. " For her infant," he said, " he could never, by 
any means, learn what became of it." 

" Her infant ! " exclaimed Brenda ; " she spoke not a word of her 
infant ! " 

" Then I wish my tongue had been blistered," said the Udaller, 
" when I told you of it ! — I see that, young and old, a man has no 
better chance of keeping a secret from you women, than an eel to 
keep himself in his hold when he is sniggled with a loop of horse- 
hair — sooner or later the fisher teases him out of his hole, when he 
has once the noose round his neck." 

" But the infant, my father," said Brenda, still insisting on the 
particulars of this extraordinary story, " what became of it ? " 

" Carried off, I fancy, by the blackguard Vaughan," answered the 
Udaller, with a gruff accent, which plainly betokened how weary 
he was of the subject. 

" By Vaughan ? " said Brenda, " the lover of poor Noma, doubt- 
less ! — what sort of man was he, father ? " 

" Why, much like other men, I fancy," answered the Udaller ; 
" I never saw him in my life. — He kept company with the Scottish 
families at Kirkwall ; and I with the good old Norse folk — Ah ! if 
Noma had dwelt always amongst her own kin, and not kept com- 
pany with her Scottish acquaintance, she would have known nothing 
of Vaughan, and things might have been otherwise — But then I 
should have known nothing of your blessed mother, Brenda — and 
that," he said, " his large blue eyes shining with a tear, " would 
have saved me a short joy and a long sorrow." 

" Noma could but ill have supplied my mother's place to you, 
father, as a companion and a friend — that is, judging from all I 
have heard," said Brenda, with some hesitation. But IVIagnus 
softened by recollections of his beloved wife, answered her with 
more indulgence than she expected, 

" I would have been content," he said, " to have wedded Noma 
at that time. It would have been the soldering of an old quarrel — 
the healing of an old sore. All our blood relations wished it, and, 
situated as I was, especially not having seen your blessed mother, 
I had little will to oppose their counsels. You must not judge 
of Norna or of me by such an appearance as we now present to 
you — She was young and beautiful, and I gamesome as a High- 
land buck, and little caring what haven I made for, having, as I 
thought, more than one under my lee. But Noma preferred this 
man Vaughan, and, as I told you before, it was, perhaps, the best 
kindness she could have done to me." 

" Ah, poor kinswoman ! " said Brenda. " But believe you, father. 


in the high powers which she claims— in the mysterious vision of 
the dwarf — in the " 

She was interrupted in these questions by Magnus, to whom they 
were obviously displeasing. 

" I believe, Brenda," he said, " according to the belief of my fore- 
fathers — I pretend not to be a wiser man than they were in their 
time, — and they all believed that, in cases of great worldly distress, 
Providence opened the eyes of the mind, and afforded the sufferers 
a vision of futurity. It was but a trimming of the boat, with re- 
verence," — ^here he touched his hat reverentially ; "and, after all 
the shifting of ballast, poor Noma is as heavily loaded in the bows 
as ever was an Orkneyman's yawl at the dog-fishing — she has more 
than affliction enough on board to balance whatever gifts she may 
have had in the midst of her calamity. They are as painful to her, 
poor soul, as a crown of thorns would be to her brows, though it 
were the badge of the empire of Denmark. And do not you, Brenda, 
seek to be wiser than your fathers. Your sister Minna, before she 
was so ill, had as much 'reverence for whatever was produced in 
Norse, as if it had been in the Pope's bull, which is all written in 
pure Latin." 

" Poor Noma! " re'peated Brenda ; "and her child— was it never 

" What do I know of her child," said the Udaller, more gruffly 
than before, "except that she was very ill, both before and after the 
birth, though we kept her as merry as we could with pipe and harp, 
and so forth ;— the child had come before its time into this busthng 
world, so it is likely it has been long dead. — But you know nothing 
of all these matters, Brenda ; so get along for a foolish girl, and ask no 
more questions about what it does not become you to enquire into." 

So saying, the Udaller gave his sturdy little palfrey the spur, and 
cantering forward over rough and smooth, while the pony's accuracy 
and firmness of step put all difficulties of the path at secure defiance, 
he placed himself soon by the side of the melancholy Minna, and 
permitted her sister to have no farther share in his conversation than 
as it was addressed to them jointly. She could but comfort herself ' 
with the hope, that, as Minna's disease appeared to have its seat in 
the imagination, the remedies recommended by Noma might have 
some chance of being effectual, since, in all probabihty, they would 
be addressed to the same faculty. 

Their way had hitherto held chiefly over moss and moor, varied 
occasionally by the necessity of making a circuit around the heads 
of those long lagoons, called voes, which run up into and indent the 
country in such a manner, that, though the mainland of Zetland 
may be thirty miles or more in length, there is, perhaps, no part of 


it which is more than three miles distant from the salt water. But 
they had now approached the north-western extremity of the isle, 
and travelled along the top of 'an immense ridge of rocks, which 
had for ages withstood the rage of the Northern Ocean, and 
of all the winds by which it is buffeted. 

At length exclaimed Magnus to his daughters, " There is Noma's 
dwelling !— Look up, Minna, my love ; for if this does not make 
you laugh, nothing will. — Saw you ever any thing but an osprey 
that would have made such a nest for herself as that is ? — By my 
namesake's bones, there is not the like of it that hving thing ever 
dwelt in, (having no wings and the use of reason,) unless it chanced 
to be the Frawa-Stack off Papa, where the King's daughter of 
Norway was shut up to keep her from her lovers— and all to Uttle 
purpose, if the tale be true ; * for, maidens, I would have you to wot 
that it is hard to keep flax from the lowe."* 


Thrice from the cavern's darksome womb 

Her groaning voice arose ; 
And come, my daughter, fearless come, 

And fearless tell thy woes ! 


The dwelling of Noma, though none but a native of Zetland, 
famiUar, during his whole life, with every variety of rock-scenery, 
could have seen any thing ludicrous in this situation, was not un^- 
aptly compared by Magnus Troil to the eyry of the osprey, or sea- 
eagle. It was very small, and had been fabricated out of one of 
those dens which are called Burghs and Picts-houses in Zetland, 
and Duns on the mainland of Scotland and the Hebrides, and 
which seem to be the first effort at architecture — the connecting 
link betwixt a fox's hole in a cairn of loose stones, and an attempt 
to construct a human habitation out of the same materials, without 
the use of lime or cement of any kind, — without any timber, so far 
as can be seen from their remains, — without any knowledge of the 
arch or of the stair. Such as they are, however, the numerous re- 
mains of these dwellings — for there is one found on every headland, 
islet, or point of vantage, which could afford the inhabitants ad- 
ditional means of defence — tend to prove that the remote people by 
whom these Burghs were constructed, were a numerous race, and 


that the islands had then a much greater population, than, from 
other circumstances, we might have been led to anticipate. 

The Burgh of which we at present speak had been altered and re- 
paired at a later period, probably by some petty despot, or sea- 
rover, who, tempted by the security of the situation, which occupied 
the whole of a projecting point of rock, and was divided from the 
mainland by a rent or chasm of some depth, had built some addi- 
tions to it in the rudest style of Gothic defensive architecture ;— 
had plastered the inside with lime and clay, and broken out windows 
for the admission of light and air ; and, finally, by roofing it over, 
and dividing it into stories, by means of beams of wreck-wood, had 
converted the whole into a tower, resembling a pyramidical dovecot, 
formed by a double wall, still containing within its thickness that 
set of circular galleries, or concentric rings, which is proper to all 
the forts of this primitive construction, and which seemed to have 
constituted the only shelter which they were originally qualified to 
afford to their shivering inhabitants.* 

This singular habitation, built out of the loose stones which lay 
scattered around, and exposed for ages to the vicissitudes of the 
elements, was as grey, weatherbeaten, and wasted, as the rock on 
which it was founded, and from which it could not easily be dis- 
tinguished, so completely did it resemble in colour, and so little did 
it differ in regularity of shape, from a pinnacle or fragment of the 

Minna's habitual indifference to all that of late had passed around 
her, was for a moment suspended by the sight of an abode, which, 
at another and happier period of her life, would have attracted at 
once her curiosity and her wonder. Even now she seemed to feel 
interest as she gazed upon this singular retreat, and recollected it 
was that of certain misery and probable insanity, connected, as its 
inhabitant asserted, and Minna's faith admitted, with power over 
the elements, and the capacity of intercourse with the invisible 

" Our kinswoman," she muttered, " has chosen her dwelling well, 
with no more of earth than a sea-fowl might rest upon, and all 
around sightless tempests and raging waves. Despair and magical 
power could not have a fitter residence." 

Brenda, on the other hand, shuddered when she looked on the 
dwelling to which they were advancing, by a difficult, dangerous, 
and precarious path, which sometimes, to her great terror, ap- 
proached to the verge of the precipice ; so that, Zetlander as she 
was, and confident as she had reason to be, in the steadiness and 
sagacity of the sure-footed pony, she could scarce suppress an in- 
clination to giddiness, especially at one point, when, being fore- 


most of the party, and turning a sharp angle of the rock, her feet 
as they projected from the side of the pony, hung for an instant 
sheer over the ledge of the precipice, so that there was nothing 
save empty space betwixt the sole of her shoe and the white foam 
of the vexed ocean, which dashed, howled, and foamed, five hun- 
dred feet below. What would have driven a maiden of another 
country into delirium, gave her but a momentary uneasiness, which 
was instantly lost in the hope, that the impression which the scene 
appeared to make on her sister's imagination might be favourable 
to her cure. 

She could not help looking back to see how Minna should pass 
the point of peril, which she herself had just rounded ; and could 
hear the strong voice of the Udaller, though to him such rough 
paths were familiar as the smooth sea-beach, call, in a tone of some 
anxiety, " Take heed, jarto," * as Minna, with an eager look, dropped 
her bridle, and stretched forward her arms, and even her body, 
over the precipice, in the attitude of the wild swan, when balancing 
itself, and spreading its broad pinions, it prepares to launch from 
the cliff upon the bosom of the winds. Brenda felt, at that instant 
a pang of unutterable terror, which left a strong impression on her 
nerves, even when relieved, as it instantly was, by her sister re- 
covering herself and sitting upright on her saddle, the opportunity 
and temptation (if she felt it) passing away, as the quiet steady 
animal which supported her rounded the projecting angle, and 
turned its patient and firm step from the verge of the precipice. 

They now attained a more level and open space of ground, being 
the, flat top of an isthmus of projecting rock, narrowing again 
towards a point where it was terminated by the chasm which 
separated the small peak, or stack, occupied by Noma's habitation, 
from the main ridge of cliff and precipice. This natural fosse, 
which seemed to have been the work of some convulsion of nature, 
was deep, dark, and irregular, narrower towards the bottom, which 
could not be distinctly seen, and widest at top, having the ap- 
pearance as if that part of the cliff occupied by the building had 
been half rent away from the isthmus which it terminated, — an idea 
favoured by the angle at which it seemed to recede from the land, 
and lean towards the sea, with the building which crowned it. 

This angle of projection was so considerable, that it required re- 
collection to dispel the idea that the rock, so much removed from 
the perpendicular, was about to precipitate itself seaward, with its 
old tower : and a timorous person would have been afraid to put 
foot upon it, lest an additional weight, so inconsiderable as that of 
the human Ijody, should hasten a catastrophe which seemed at 
every instant impending. 


Without troubling himself about such fantasies, the Udaller rode 
towards the tower, and there dismounting along with his daughters, 
gave the ponies in charge to one of their domestics, with direc- 
tions to disencumber them of their burdens, and turn them out for 
rest and refreshment upon the nearest heath. This done, they ap- 
proached the gate, which seemed formerly to have been connected 
with the land by a rude drawbridge, some of the apparatus of 
which was still visible. But the rest had been long demohshed, 
and was replaced by a stationary foot-bridge, formed of barrel- 
staves covered with turf, very narrow and ledgeless, and supported 
by a sort of arch, constructed out of the jaw-bones of the whale. 
Along this "brigg of dread" the Udaller stepped with his usual 
portly majesty of stride, which threatened its demolition and his 
own at the same time ; his daughters trod more lightly and more 
safely after him, and the whole party stood before the low and 
rugged portal of Noma's habitation. 

" If she should be abroad after all," said Magnus, as he plied the 
black oaken door with repeated blows ; — " but if so, we will at 
least lie by a day for her return, and make Nick Stumpfer pay the 
demurrage in bland and brandy." 

As he spoke, the door opened, and displayed, to the alarm of 
Brenda, and the surprise of Minna herself, a square-made dwarf, 
about four feet five inches high, with a head of most portentous 
size, and features correspondent — namejy, a huge mouth, a tre- 
mendous nose, with large black nostrils, which seemed to have- 
been slit upwards, blubber lips of an unconscionable size, and huge 
wall-eyes, with which he leered, sneered, grinned, and goggled on 
the Udaller as an old acquaintance, without uttering a single word. 
The young women could hardly persuade themselves that they did 
not see before their eyes the very demon TroUd, who made such a 
distinguished figure in Noma's legend. Their father went on 
addressing this uncouth apparition in terms of such condescending 
friendship as the better sort apply to their inferiors, when they 
wish, for any immediate purpose, to conciliate or coax them, — 3. 
tone, by the by, which generally contains, in its very familiarity, as 
much offence as the more direct assumption of distance and 

" Ha, Nick ! honest Nick ! " said the Udaller, " here you are, 
lively and lovely as Saint Nicholas your namesake, when he is 
carved with an axe for the headpiece of a Dutch dogger. How dost 
thou do, Nick, or Pacolet, if you like that better ? Nicholas, here 
are my two daughters, nearly as handsome as thyself thou 

Nick grinned, and did a clumsy obeisance by way of courtesy, 


but kept his broad misshapen person firmly placed in the door- 

"Daughters," continued the Udaller, who seemed to have his 
reasons for speaking this Cerberus fair, at least according to his 
own notions of propitiation, — "this [is Nick Strumpfer, maidens, 
whom his mistress calls Pacolet, being a light-limbed dwarf, as you 
see, like him- that wont to fly about, like a Scourie, on his wooden 
hobbyhorse, in the old story-book of Valentine and Orson, that you, 
Minna, used to read whilst you were a child. I assure you he can 
keep his mistress's counsel, and never told one of her secrets in his 
Hfe — ^ha, ha, ha ! " 

The ugly dwarf grinned ten times wider than before, and showed 
the meaning of the Udaller's jest, by opening his immense jaws, and 
throwing back his head, so as to discover, that, in the immense 
cavity of his mouth, there only remained the small shrivelled 
remnant of a tongue, capable, perhaps, of assisting him in swallow- 
ing his food, but unequal to the formation of articulate sounds. 
Whether this organ had been curtailed by cruelty, or injured by 
disease, it was impossible to guess ; but that the unfortunate being 
had not been originally dumb, was evident from his retaining the 
sense of hearing. Having made this horrible exhibition, he repaid 
the Udaller's mirth with a loud, horrid, and discordant laugh, which 
had something in it the more hideous that his mirth seemed to be 
excited by his own misery. The sisters looked on each other in 
silence and fear, and even the Udaller appeared disconcerted. 

" And how now ? " he proceeded, after a minute's pause. " When 
didst thou wash that throat of thine, that is about the width of the 
Pentland Frith, with a cup of brandy ? Ha, Nick ! I have that ' 
with me which is sound stuff, boy, ha ! " 

The dwarf bent his beetle-brows, shook his mis-shapen head, 
and made a quick sharp indication, throwing his right hand up to 
his shoulder with the thumb pointed backwards. 

" What ! my kinswoman," said the Udaller, comprehending the 
signal, "will be angry? Well, shalt have a ilask to carouse when 
she is from home, old acquaintance ; — lips and throats may swallow 
though they cannot speak." 

Pacolet grinned a grim assent. 

" And now," said the Udaller, " stand out of the way, Pacolet, 
and let me carry my daughters to see their kinswoman. By the 
bones of Saint Magnus, it shall be a good turn in thy way ! — nay, 
never shake thy her.d, man ; for if thy mistress be at home, see her 
we will." 

The dwarf again intimated the impossibility of their being ad- 
mitted, partly by signs, partly by mumbling some uncouth and 



most disagreeable sounds, and the Udaller's mood began to 

"Tittle tattle, man!" saidbe; "trouble not me with thy gibberish, 
but stand out of the way, and the blame, if there be any, shall rest 
with me." 

So saying, Magnus. Troil laid his sturdy hand upon the collar of 
the recusant dwarf's jacket of blue wadmaal, and, with a strong, 
but not a violent grasp, removed him from the doorway, pushed 
him gently aside, and entered, followed by his two daughters, 
whom a sense of apprehension, arising out of all which they saw 
and heard, kept very close to him. A crooked and duslcy passage 
through which Magnus led the way, was dimly enlightened by a 
shot-hole, communicating with the interior of the building, and 
originally intended, doubtless, to command the entrance by a hagbut 
or culverin. As they approached nearer, for they walked slowly and 
with hesitation, the light, imperfect as it was, was suddenly ob- 
scured ; and, on looking upward to discern the cause, Brenda was 
startled to observe the pale and obscurely-seen countenance of 
Noma gazing downward upon them, withoiit speaking a word. 
There was nothing 'extraordinary in this, as the mistress of the 
mansion might be naturally enough looking out to see what guests 
were thus suddenly and unceremoniously intruding themselves on 
her presence. Still, however, the natural paleness of her features, 
exaggerated by the light in which they were at present exhibited, — 
the immovable sternness of her look, which showed neither kind- 
ness nor courtesy of civil reception, — her dead silence, and the 
singular appearance of every thing about her dwelling, augmented 
the dismay which Brenda had already conceived. Magnus Troil 
and Minna had walked slowly forward, without observing the ap- 
parition of their singular hostess. 


The ■witch then raised her withered arm. 

And waved her wand on high, 
And, while she spoke the mutter'd charm, 

Dark lightning fill'd her eye. 


"This should be the stair," said the Udaller, blundering in the 
dark against some steps of irregular ascent — " This should be the 
Stair, unless my memory greatly fail me ; ay, and there she sits, 


he added, pausing at a half-opened door, " with all her tackle about 
her as usual, and as busy, doubtless, as the devil in a gale of 

As he made this irreverent comparison, he entered, followed by 
his daughters, the darkened apartment in which Noma was seated, 
amidst a confused collection of books of various languages, parch- 
ment scrolls, tablets and stones inscribed with the straight and 
angular characters of the Runic alphabet, and similar articles, 
which the vulgar might have connected with the exercise of the 
forbidden arts. There were also lying in the chamber, or fcung 
over the rude and ill-contrived chimney, an old shirt of mail, with 
the headpiece, battle-axe, and lance, which had once belonged to 
it ; and on a shelf were disposed, in great order, several of those 
curious stone-axes, formed of green granite, which are often found 
in those islands, where they are called thunderbolts by the common 
people, who usually preserve them as a charm of security against 
the effects of lightning. There was, moreover, to be seen amid the 
strange collection, a stone sacrificial knife, used perhaps for im- 
molating human victims, and one or two of the brazen implements 
called Celts, the purpose of which has troubled the repose of so 
many antiquaries. A variety of other articles, some of which had 
neither name nor were capable o/description, lay in confusion about 
the apartment ; and in one corner, on a quantity of withered sea- 
weed, reposed what seemed, at first view, to be a large unshapely 
dog, but, when seen more closely, proved to be a tame seal, which 
it had been Noma's amusement to domesticate. 

This uncouth favourite bristled up in its corner, upon the arrival 
of so many strangers, with an alertness similar to that which a 
terrestrial dog would have displayed on a similar occasion ; but 
Noma remained motionless, seated behind a table of rough granite, 
propped up by misshapen feet of the same material, which, besides 
the old book with which she seemed to be busied, sustained a cak© 
of the coarse unleavened bread, three parts oatmeal, and one the 
sawdust of fir, which is used by the poor peasants of Norway, 
beside which stood a jar of water. 

Magnus Troil remained a minute in silence gazing upon his kins- 
woman, while the singularity of her mansion inspired Brenda wiLli 
much fear, and changed, though but for a moment, the melancholy 
and abstracted mood of Minna, into a feeling of interest not un- 
mixed with awe. The'silence was interrupted by the Udaller, who, 
unwilling on the one band to give his kinswoman offence, and 
desirous on the other to show that he was not daunted by a recep- 
tion so singular, opened the conversation thus :— 

T 2 


" I give you good e'en, cousin Noma- my daughters and I have 
come far to see you." 

Noma raised her eyes from her volume, looked full at her visitors, 
then let them quietly sit down on the leaf with which she seemed to 
be engaged. 

" Nay, cousin," said Magnus, "take your own time — our business 
with you can wait your leisure. — See here, Minna, what a fair pro- 
spect here is of the cape, scarce a quarter of a mile off! you may 
see the billows breaking on it topmast high. Our kinswoman has 
got a pretty seal, too — Here, sealchie, my man, whew, whew ! " 

The seal took no further notice of the Udaller's advances to 
acquaintance, than by uttering a low growl. 

" He is not so well trained," continued the Udaller, affecting an 
air of ease and unconcern, " as Peter MacRaw's, the old piper of 
Stornoway, who had a seal that flapped its tail to the tune of Caber- 
fae, and acknowledged no other whatever.* — Well, cousin," he con- 
cluded, observing that Noma closed her book, "are you going to 
give us a welcome at last, or must we go farther than our blood- 
relation's house to seek one, and that when the evening is wearing 
late apace ? " 

" Ye dull and hard-hearted generation, as deaf as the adder to 
the voice of the charmer," answered Noma, addressing them, 
" why come ye to me ? You have slighted every warning I could 
give of the coming harm, and now that it hath come upon you, ye 
seek my counsel when it can avail you nothing." 

" Look you, kinswoman," said the Udaller, with his usual frank- 
ness, and boldness of manner and accent, " I must needs tell you 
that your courtesy is something of the coarsest and the coldest. I 
cannot say that I ever saw an adder, in regard there are none in 
these parts ; but touching my own thoughts of what such a thing 
may be, it cannot be terrped a suitable comparison to me or to my 
daughters, and that I would have you to know. For old acquaint- 
ance, and certain other reasons, I do not leave your house upon the 
instant ; but as I came hither in all kindness and civility,, so I pray 
you to receive me with the like, otherwise we will depart, and leave 
shame on your inhospitable threshold." 

" How," said Noma, " dare you use such bold language in the 
house of one from whom all men, from whom you yourself, come to 
solicit counsel and aid? They who speak to the Reimkennar, 
must lower their voice to hejr before whom winds and waves hush 
both blast and billow." 

" Blast and billow may hush themselves if they will," replied the 
peremptory Udaller, " but that will not I. I speak in the house of 
my friend as in my own, and strike sail to none." 


" And hope ye," said Noma, " by this rudeness to compe me to 
answer to your interrogatories ? " 

" Kinswoman," replied Magnus Troil, " I know not so much a 
you of the old Norse sagas ; but this I know, that when kempies 
were wont, long since, to seek the habitations of the gall-dragons, 
and spae-women, they came with their axes on their shoulders, and 
their good swords drawn in their hands, and compelled the power 
whom they invoked to listen to and to answer them, ay were it 
Odin himself." 

" Kinsman," said Noma, arising from her seat, and coming for- 
ward, " thou hast spoken well, and in good time for thyself and 
thy daughters ; for hadst thou turned from my threshold without 
extorting an answer, morning sun had never again shone upon you. 
The spirits who serve me are jealous, and will not be employed in 
aught that may benefit humanity, unless their service is commanded 
by the undaunted importunity of the brave and the free. And now 
speak, what wouldst thou have of me ? " 

" My daughter's health," replied Magnus, " which no remedies 
have been able to restore." 

" Thy daughter's health?" answered Noma; "and what is the 
maiden's ailment ? " 

" The physician," said Troil, " must name the disease. All that 
I can tell thee of it is " 

" Be silent," said Noma, interrupting him, " I know all thou 
canst tell me, and more than thou thyself knowest. Sit down, all 
of you — and thou, maiden," she said, addressing Minna, " sit thou 
in that chair," pointing to the place she had jQst left, " once the 
seat of Giervada, at whose voice the stars hid their beams, and the 
moon herself grew pale." 

Minna moved with slow and tremulous step towards the rude 
seat thus indicated to her. It was composed of stone, formed into 
some semblance of a chair by the rough and unskilful hand of some 
ancient ^Gothic artist. 

Brenda, creeping as close as possible to her father, seated herself 
along with him upon a bench at some distance from Minna, and 
kept her eyes, with a mixture of fear, pity, and anxiety, closely 
fixed upon her. It would be difficult altogether to decipher the 
emotions by which this amiable and affectionate girl was agitated 
at the moment. Deficient in her sister's predominating quality of 
high imagination, and little credulous, of course, to the marvellous, 
she could not but entertain some vague and indefinite fears on her 
own account, concerning the nature of the scene which was soon 
to take place. But these were in a rnanner swallowed up in her 
apprehensions on the score of her sister, who, with a frame so much 


weakened, spirits so much exhausted, and a mind so susceptible of 
the impressions which all around her was calculated to excite, 
now sat pensively resigned to the agency of one, whose treatment 
might produce the most baneful effects upon such a subject. 

Brenda gazed at Minna, who sat in that rude chair of dark stone, 
her finely formed shape and limbs making the strongest contrast 
with its ponderous and irregular angles, her cheek and lips as pale 
as clay, and her eyes turned upward, and lighted with the mixture 
of resignation and excited enthusiasm, which belonged to her 
disease and her character. The younger sister then looked on 
Noma, who muttered to herself in a low monotonous manner, as, 
gliding from one place to another, she collected different articles, 
which she placed one by one on the table. And lastly, Brenda 
looked anxiously to her father, to gather, if possible, from his 
countenance, whether he entertained any part of her own fears for 
the consequences of the scene which was to ensue, considering the 
state of Minna's health and spirits. But Magnus Troil seemed to 
have no such apprehensions ; he viewed with stern composure 
Noma's preparations, and appeared to wait the event with the 
composure of one, who, confiding in the skill of a medical artist, 
sees him preparing to enter upon some important and painful ope- 
ration, in the issue of which he is interested by friendship or by 

Noma, meanwhile, went onward with her preparations, until she 
had placed on the stone table a variety of miscellaneous articles, 
and among the rest, a small chafing-dish full of charcoal, a crucible, 
and a piece of thin sheet-lead. She then spoke aloud — " It is well 
that I was aware of your coming hither — ay, long before you your- 
self had resolved it — how should I else have been prepared for 
that which is now to be done .'' — Maiden," she continued, addressing 
Minna, "where lies thy pain ?" 

The patient answered, by pressing her hand to the left side of 
her bosom. 

" Even so," replied Noma, " even so — ^'tis the site of weal or woe. 
— And you, her father and her sister, think not this the idle speech 
of one who talks by guess — if I can tell thee ill, it may be that I 
shall be able to render that less severe, which may not, by any aid, 
be wholly amended. — The heart— ay, the heart— touch that, and 
the eye grows dim, the pulse fails, the wholesome stream of our 
blood is choked and troubled, our limbs decay like sapless sea-weed 
in a summer's sun ; our better views of existence are past and gone ; 
what remains is the dream of lost happiness, or the fear of inevi- 
table evil. But the Reimkennar must do her work — well it is that 
I have prepared the means." 

. THE PIRATE. 279 

She threw off her long dark-coloured mantle, and stood before 
them in her short jacket of light-blue wadmaal, with its skirt of the 
same stuff, fancifully embroidered with black velvet, and bound at 
the waist with a chain or girdle of silver, formed into singular de- 
vices. Noma next undid the fillet which bound her grizzled hair, 
and shaking her head wildly, caused it to fall in dishevelled abun- 
dance over her face and around her shoulders, so as almost entirely 
to hide her features. She then placed a small crucible on the 
chafing-dish already mentioned, — dropped a few drops from a vial 
on the charcoal below, — pointed towards it her wrinkled forefinger, 
which she had previously moistened with liquid from another small 
bottle, and said with a deep voice, " Fire, do thy duty ; " — and the 
words were no sooner spoken, than, probably by some chemical 
combination of which the spectators were not aware, the charcoal 
which was under the crucible became slowly ignited ; while Noma, 
as if impatient of the delay, threw hastily back her disordered 
tresses, and, while her features reflected the sparkles and red light 
of the fire, and her eyes flashed from amongst her hair like those 
of a wild animal from its cover, blew fiercely till the whole was in 
an intense glow. She paused a moment from her toil, and mut- 
tering that the elemental spirit must be thanked, recited, in her 
usual monotonous, yet wild mode of chanting, the following 
verses : — 

" Thou so needful, yet so dread, 
With cloudy crest, and wing of red ; 
Thou, without whose genial breath 
The North would sleep the sleep of death ; 
Who deign'st to warm the cottage hearth, 
Yet hurl'st proud palaces to earth, — 
Brightest, keenest of the Powers 
Which form and rule this world of ours, 
With my rhyme of Runic, I 
Thank thee for thy agency." 

She then severed a portion from the small mass of sheet-lead 
which lay upon the table, and, placing it in the crucible, subjected 
it to the action of the lighted charcoal, and, as it melted, she 

" Old Reimkennar, to thy art 
Mother Hertha sends her part ; 
She, whose gracious bounty gives 
Needful food for all that lives. 
From the deep mine of the North, 
Came the mystic metal forth, 


Doom'd, amidst disjointed stones, 
Long'to cere a champion's bones, 
Disinhumed my charms to aid — 
Mother Earth, my thanks are paid." 

She then poured out some water from the jar into a large cup, or 
goblet, and sung once more, as she slowly stirred it round with the 
end of her staff : — 

" Girdle of our islands dear. 
Element of Wafer, hear 
Thou whose power can overwhelm 
Broken mounds and ruin'd realm 

On the lowly Belgian strand ; 
All thy fiercest rage can never 
Of our soil a furlong sever 

From our rock-defended land ; 
Play then gently thou thy part. 
To assist old Noma's art." 

She then, with a pair of pincers, removed the crucible from the 
chafing-dish, and poured the lead, now entirely melted, into the bowl 
of water, repeating at the same time, — 

" Elements, each other greeting. 

Gifts and powers attend your meeting ! " 

The melted lead, spattering as it fell into the water, formed, of 
course, the usual combination of irregular forms which is familiar 
to all who in childhood have made the experiment, and from 
which, according to our childish fancy, we may have selected por- 
tions bearing some resemblance to domestic articles— the tools of 
mechanics, or the like. Noma seemed to busy herself in some 
such researches, for she examined the jnass of lead with scrupulous 
attention, and detached it into different portions, without appa- 
rently being able to find a fragment in the form which she 

At length she again muttered, rather as speaking to herself than 
to her guests, " He, the Viewless, will not be omitted,— he will have 
his tribute even in the work to which he gives nothing. — Stem 
compeller of the clouds, thou also shalt hear the voice of the Reim- 

Thus speaking, Noma once more threw the lead into the crucible, 
where, hissing and spatienng as the wet metal touched the sides of 


the red-hot vessel, it was soon again reduced iiito a state of fusion. 
The sibyl meantime turned to a corner of the apartment, and 
opening suddenly a window which looked to the north-west, let in 
the fitful radiance of the sun, now lying almost level upon a great 
mass of red clouds, which, boding future tempest, occupied the 
edge of the horizon, and seemed to brood over the billows of the 
boundless sea. Turning to this quarter, from which a low hollow 
moaning breeze then blew. Noma addressed the Spirit of the Winds 
in tones which seemed to resemble his own :-- 

'' Thou, that over billows dark 
Safely send'st the fisher's bark, — 
Giving him a path and motion 
Through the wilderness of ocean ; 
Thou, that when the billows brave ye, 
O'er the shelves canst drive the navy, — 
Did'st thou chafe as one neglected, 
"While thy brethren were respected ? 
To appease thee, see, I tear 
This full grasp of grizzled hair ; 
Oft thy breath hath through it sung. 
Softening to my magic tongue, — 
Now, 'tis thine to bid it fly 
Through the wide expanse of sky, 
'Mid the countless swarms to sail 
Of wild-fowl wheeling on thy gale ; 
Take thy portion and rejoice, — 
Spirit, .thou hast^heard my voice ! " 

Noma accompanied these words with the action which they de- 
scribed, tearing a handful of hair with vehemence from her head, 
and strewing it upon the wind as she continued her recitation. She 
then shut the casement, and again involved the chamber in the 
dubious twilight, which best suited her character and occupation. 
The melted lead was once more emptied into the water, and the 
various whimsical conformations which it received from the opera- 
tion were examined with great care by the sibyl, who at length 
seemed to intimate, by voice and gesture, that her spell had been 
•successful. She selected from the fused metal a piece about the 
size of a small nut, bearing in shape a close resemblance to that 
of the human heart, and, approaching Minna, again spoke in 
■song :~ 

" She who sits by haunted well, 
Is subject to the Nixie's spell ; 


She who walks on lonely beach 

To the Mermaid's charmed speech ; 

She who walks round ring of green, 

Offends the peevish Fairy Queen ; 

And she who takes rest in the Dwarfie's cave, 

A weary weird of woe shall have. 

" By ring, by spring, by cave, by shore, 

Minna Troil has braved all this and more : 

And yet hath the root of her sorrow and ill 

A source that's more deep and more mystical stiU." 

Minna, whose attention had been latterly something disturbed 
by reflections on her own secret sorrow, now suddenly recalled it, 
and looked eagerly on Noma as if she expected to learn from her 
rhymes something of deep interest. The northern sibyl, mean- 
while, proceeded to pierce the piece of lead, which bore the form 
of a heart, and to fix in it a piece of gold wir?, by which it might 
be attached to a chain or necklace. She then proceeded in her 

" Thou art within a demon's hold, 

More wise than Heims, more strong than Trolld ; 

No siren sings so sweet as he, — 

No fay springs lighter on the lea ; 

No elfin power hath half the art 

To soothe, to move, to wring the heart, — 

Life-blood from the cheek to drain, 

Drench the eye, and dry the vein. 

Maiden, ere we farther go. 

Dost thou note me, ay or no ?" 

Minna rephed in the same rhythmical manner, which, in jest 
and earnest, was frequently used by the ancient Scandinavians,— 

" I mark thee, my mother, both word, look, and sign ; 
i Speak on with the riddle — to read it be mine." 

" Now, Heaven and every saint be praised ! " said Magnus, 
" they are the first words to the purpose which she hath spoken 
these many days." 

" And they are the last which she shall speak for many a month, 
said Noma, incensed at the interruption, "if you again break the 
progress of my spell. Turn your faces to the wall, and look not 
hitherward again, under penalty of my severe displeasure. You, 


Magnus Troil, from hard-hearted audacity of spirit, and you, 
Brenda, from wanton and idle disbelief ii> that which is beyond 
your bounded comprehension, are unworthy to look oii this mystic 
work ; and the glance of your eyes mingles with, and weakens, the 
spell ; for the powers cannot brook distrust." 

Unaccustomed to be addressed in a tone so peremptory, Magnus 
would have made some angry reply ; but reflecting that the health 
of Minna was at stake, and considering, that she who spoke was 
a woman of many sorrows, he suppressed his anger, bowed his 
head, shrugged his shoulders, assumed the prescribed posture, 
averting his head from the table, and turning towards the wall. 
Brenda did the same, on receiving a sign from her father, and both 
remained profoundly silent. 

Noma then addressed Minna once more, — 

" Mark me ! for the word I speak' 

Shall bring the colour to thy cheek. 

This leaden heart, so light of cost, 

The symbol of a treasure lost, 

Thou shalt wear in hope and in peace, 

That the cause of your sickness and sorrow may cease, 

When crimson foot meets crimson hand 

In the Martyrs' Aisle, and in Orkney-land." 

Minna coloured deeply at the last couplet, intimating, as she 
failed not to interpret it, that Noma was completely acquainted 
with the secret cause of her sorrow. The same conviction led the 
maiden to hope in the favourable issue, which the sibyl seemed to 
prophesy ; and not venturing to express her feelings in any manner 
more intelligible, she pressed Noma's withered hand with all the 
warmth of affection, first to her breast and then to her bosom, 
bedewing it at the same time with her tears. 

With more of human feeling than she usually exhibited. Noma 
extricated her hand from the grasp of the poor girl, whose tears 
now flowed freely, and then, with more tenderness of manner than 
she had yet shown, she knotted the leaden heart to a chain of gold 
and hung it around Minna's neck, singing, as she performed that 
last branch of the spell,— 

" Be patient, be patient, for Patience hath power 
To ward us in danger, like mantle in shower ; 
A fairy gift you best may hold 
In a chain of fairy gold ,• 


The chain and the gift are each a true token, 
That not without warrant old Noma has spoken ; 
But thy nearest and dearest must never behold them, 
Till time shall accomplish the truths I have told them." 

The verses being concluded, Noma carefully arranged the chain 
around her patient's neck so as to hide it in her bosom, and thus i 
ended the spell — a spell which, at the moment I record these inci- 
dents, it is known, has been lately practised in Zetland, where 
any decline of health, without apparent cause, is imputed by the 
lower orders to a demon having stolen the heart from the body of 
the patient, and where the experiment of supplying the deprivation 
by a leaden one, prepared in the manner described, has been re- 
sorted to within these few years. In a metaphorical sense, the 
disease may be considered as a general one in all parts of the 
world ; but, as this simple and original remedy is peculiar to the 
isles of Thule, it were unpardonable not to preserve it at length, in 
a narrative connected with Scottish antiquities.* 

A second time Noma reminded her patient, that if she showed, 
or spoke of, the fairy gifts, their virtue would be lost — a beUef so 
common as to be received into the superstitions of all nations. 
Lastly, unbuttoning the collar which she had just fastened, she 
showed her a link of the gold chain, which Minna instantly recog- 
nised as that fomierly given by Noma to Mordaunt Mertoun. 
This seemed to intimate he was yet alive, and under Noma's pro- 
tection ; and she gazed on her with the most eager curiosity. But 
the sibyl imposed her finger on her lips in token of silence, and a 
second time involved the chain in those folds which modestly and 
closely veiled one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the 
kindest, bosoms in the world. 

Noma then extinguished the lighted charcoal, and, as the water 
hissed upon the glowing embers, commanded Magnus and Brenda 
to look around, and behold her task accomplished.. 



See yonder woman, whom our swains revere, 

And dread in secret, while they take her counsel 

When sweetheart shall be kind, or when cross dame shall die ; 

Where lurks the thief who stole the silver tankard. 

And how the pestilent murrain may be cured. — 

This sage adviser's mad, stark mad, my friend ; 

Yet, in her madness, hath the art and cunning 

To wring fools' secrets from their inmost bosoms, 

And pay enquirers with the coin they gave her. 

Old Play. 

It seemed as if Noma had indeed full right to claim the gra- 
titude of the Udaller for the improved condition of his daughter's 
health. She once more threw open the window, and Minna, dry- 
ing her eyes and advancing with affectionate confidence, threw 
herself on her father's neck, and asked his forgiveness for the 
trouble she had of late occasioned to him. It is unnecessary to 
add, that this was at once granted, with a full, though rough burst 
of parental tenderness, and as many close embraces as if his child 
had been just rescued from the jaws of death. When Magnus 
had dismissed Minna from his arms, to throw herself into those of 
her sister, and express to her, rather by kisses and tears than in 
words, the regret she entertained for her late wayward conduct, 
the Udaller thought proper, in the meantime, to pay his thanks 
to their hostess, whose skill had proved so efficacious. But scarce 
had he come out with, " Much respected - kinswoman, I am but a 
plain old Norseman,"^-when she interrupted him, by pressing her 
finger on her lips.- 

" There are those around us," she said, '' who must hear no 
mortal voice, witness no sacrifice to mortal feelings — there are 
times when they mutiny even against me, their sovereign mis- 
tress, because I am still shrouded in the flesh of humanity. 
Fear, therefore, and be silent. I, whose deeds have raised me 
from the low-sheltered valley of life, where dwell its social wants 
and common charities ; — I, who have bereft the Giver of the 
Gift which he gave, and stand alone on a cliff of immeasurable 
height, detached from earth, save from the small portion that 
supports my miserable tread— I alone am fit to cope with those 
sullen mates. Fear not, therefore, but yet be not too bold, and let 
this night to you be one of fasting and of prayer." 

If the Udaller had not, before the commencement of the ope- 

286 THE PIR^^TE. 

ration, been disposed to dispute the commands of the sibyl, it may 
be well believed he was less so now, that it had terminated to all 
appearance so fortunately. So he sat down in silence, and seized 
upon a volume which lay near him as a sort of desperate effort to 
divert ennui, for on no other occasion had Magnus been known to 
have recourse to a book for that purpose. It chanced to be a book 
much to his mind, being the well-known work of Olaus Magnus, 
upon the manners of the ancient Northern nations. The book is 
unluckily in the Latin language, and the Danske or Dutch were, 
either of them, much more familiar to the Udiller. But then it 
was the fine edition published in 1555, which contains represen- 
tations of the war-chariots, fishing exploits, warlike exercises, and 
domestic employments of the Scandinavians, executed on copper- 
plates ; and thus the information which the work refused to the 
understanding, was addressed to the eye, which, as is well known 
both to old and young, answers the purpose of amusement as well, 
if not better. 

Meanwhile the two sisters, pressed as close to each other as 
two flowers on the same stalk, sat with their arms reciprocally 
passed over each other's shoulder, as if they feared some new 
and unforeseen cause of coldness was about to separate them, 
and interrupt the sister-like harmony which had been but just 
restored. Noma sat opposite to them, sometimes revolving the 
large parchment volume with which they had found her employed 
at their entrance, and sometimes gazing on the sisters with a fixed 
look, in which an interest of a kind unusually tender, seemed occa- 
sionally to disturb the stern and rigorous solemnity of her counte- 
nance. All was still and silent as death, and the subsiding 
emotions of Brenda had not yet permitted her to wonder whether 
the remaining hours of the evening were to be passed in the same 
manner, when the scene of tranquillity was suddenly interrupted 
by the entrance of the dwarf Pacolet, or, as the Udaller called him, 
Nicholas Strumpfer. 

Noma darted an angry glance on the intruder, who seemed to 
deprecate her resentment by holding up his hands and uttering a 
babbling sound ; then, instantly resorting to his usual mode of 
conversation, he expressed himself by a variety of signs made 
rapidly upon his fingers, and as rapidly answered by his mistress, 
so that the young women, who had never heard of such an art, and 
now saw it practised by two beings so singular, almost conceived 
their mutual intelligence the work of enchantment. When they 
had ceased their intercourse, Noma turned to Magnus Troil with 
much haughtiness, and said, " How, my kinsman ? have you so 
far forgot yourself, as to bring earthly food into the house t^' 


the Reimkennar, and make preparations in the dwelling of Power 
and of Despair, for refection, and wassail, and revelry ? — Speak 
not — answer not," she said ; " the duration of the cure which was 
wrought even now, depends on your silence and obedience — 
bandy but a single look or word with me, and the latter condition 
of that maiden shall be worse than the first ! " 

This threat was an effectual charm upon the tongue of the 
Udaller, though he longed to indulge it in vindication of his 

" Follow me, all of you," said Noma, striding to the door of the 
apartment, " and see that no one looks backwards — we leave not 
this apartment empty, though we, the children of mortality, be 
removed from it." 

She went out, and the Udaller signed to his daughters to follow, 
and to obey her injunctions. The sibyl moved swifter than her 
guests down the rude descent, (such it might rather be" termed, 
than a proper staircase,) which led to the lower apartment. Magnus 
and his daughters, when they entered the chamber, found their own 
attendants aghast at the presence and proceedings of Noma of the 

They had been previously employed in arranging the provisions 
which they had brought along with them, so as to present a com- 
fortable cold meal, as soon as the appetite of the UdaUer, which was 
as regular as the return of tide, should induce him to desire some 
refreshment ; and now they stood staring in fear and surprise, while 
Noma, seizing upon one article after another, and well supported 
by the zealous activity of Pacolet, flung their whole preparations 
out of the rude aperture which served for a window, and over the 
cliff,. from which the ancient Burgh arose, into the ocean, which 
raged and foamed beneath. Vifda, (dried beef,) hams, and pickled 
pork, flew after each other into empty space, smoked geese were 
restored to the air, and cured fish to the sea, their native elements, 
indeed, but which they were no longer capable of traversing, 
and the devastation proceeded so rapidly, that the Udaller could 
scarce secure from the wreck his silver drinking cup ; while the 
large leathern flask of brandy, which was destined to supply his 
favourite beverage, was sent to follow the rest of the supper, by 
the hands of Pacolet, who regarded, at the same time, the disap- 
pointed Udaller with a malicious grin, as if, notwithstanding his 
own natural taste for the liquor, he enjoyed the disappointment and 
surprise of Magnus Troil still more than he would have relished 
sharing his enjoyment. 

The destruction of the brandy flask exhausted the patience of 
Magnus, who roared out, in a tone of no small displeasure, " Why, 


kinswoman, this is wasteful madness — where, and on what, would 
you have us sup ? " 

" Where you will," answered Noma, " and on what you will — but 
not in my dwelling, and not on the food with which you have pro- 
faned it. Vex my spirit no more, but begone, every one of you ! 
You have been here too long for my good, perhaps for your own." 

" How, kinswoman," said Magnus, " would you make outcasts of 
us at this time of night, when even a Scotchman would not turn a 
stranger from the door ? — Bethink you, dame, it is shame on our 
lineage for ever, if this squall of yours should force us to slip cables 
and go to sea so scantily provided." 

" Be silent, and depart," said Noma ; " let it suffice you have 
got that for which you came. I have no harbourage for mortal 
guests, no provision to reheve human wants. There is beneath the 
cliff, a beach of the finest sand, a stream of water as pure as the 
well of Kildinguie, and the rocks bear dulse as wholesome as that 
of Guiodin ; and well you wot, that the well of Kildinguie and the 
dulse of Guiodin will cure all maladies save Black Death." * 

" And well I wot," said the UdaUer, " that I would eat corrupted 
sea-weeds like a starling, or salted seal's flesh like the men of Bur- 
raforth, or wilks, buckles, and lampits, like the poor sneaks of 
Stroma, rather than break wheat bread and drink red. wine in a 
house where it is begrudged me. — And yet," he said, checking 
himself, " I am wrong, very wrong, my cousin, to speak thus to 
you, and I should rather thank you for what you have done, than 
upbraid you for following your own ways. But I see you are im- 
patient — we will be all under way presently. — And you, ye knaves," 
addressing his servants, " that were in such hurry with your service 
before it was lacked, get out of doors with you presently, and 
manage to catch the ponies ; for I see we must make for another 
harbour to-night, if we would not sleep with an empty stomach, and 
on a hard bed." 

The domestics of Magnus, already sufficiently alarmed at the 
violence of Noma's conduct, scarce waited the imperious com- 
mand of their master to evacuate her dweUing with all dispatch ; 
and the UdaUer, with a daughter on each arm, was in the act of 
following them, when Noma said emphatically, " Stop ! " They 
obeyed, and again turned towards her. She held out her hand to 
Magnus, which the placable -UdaUer instantly folded in his own 
ample palm. 

"Magnus," she said, "we part by necessity, but, I trust, not in 
anger ? " 

"Surely not, cousin," said the warm-hearted UdaUer, weUnigh 
stammering in his hasty disclamation of aU unkindness,— "most 

The Pirate. 289 

assuredly not. I never bear ill-will to any one, much less to one 
of my own blood, and who has piloted me with her advice through 
many a rough tide, as I would pilot a boat betwixt Swona and 
Stroma, through all the waws, wells, and swelchies, of the Pentland 

" Enough," said Noma, " and now farewell, with such a blessing 
as I dare bestow — not a word more ! — maidens," she added, " draw 
near, and let me kiss your brows." 

The sibyl was obeyed by Minna with awe, and by Brenda with 
feaf ; the one overmastered by the warmth of her imagination, the 
other by the natural timidity of her constitution. Noma then dis- 
missed them, and in two minutes afterwards they found themselves 
beyond the bridge, and standing upon the rocky platform in front of 
the ancient Pictish Burgh, which it was the pleasure of this seques- 
tered female to inhabit. The night, for it was now fallen, was un- 
usually serene. A bright twiUght, which glimmered far over the 
surface of the sea, supplied the brief absence of the summer's sun ; 
and the waves seemed to sleep under its influence, so faint and 
slumberous was the sound with which one after another rolled on 
and burst against the foot of the cliff on which they stood. In 
front of them stood the rugged fortress, seeming, in the uniform 
greyness of the atmosphere, as aged, as shapeless, and as massive, 
as the rock on which it was founded. There was neither sight nor 
sound that indicated human habitation, save that from one rude 
shot-hole glimmered the flame of the feeble lamp by which the 
sibyl was probably pursuing her mystical and nocturnal studies, 
shooting upon the twilight, in which it was soon lost and con- 
founded, a single line of tiny light ; bearing the same proportion 
to that of the atmosphere, as the aged woman and her serf, the sole 
inhabitants of that desert, did to the solitude with which they were 

For several minutes, the party, thus suddenly and unexpectedly 
expelled from the shelter where they had reckoned upon spending 
the night, stood in silence, each wrapped in their own separate 
reflections. Minna, her thoughts fixed on the mystical consolation 
which she had received, in vain endeavoured to extract from the 
words of Noma a more distinct and intelligible meaning ; and 
the Udcdler had not yet recovered his surprise at the extrusion 
to which he had been thus whimsically subjected, under circum- 
stances that prohibited him from resenting as an insult, treat- 
ment, which, in all other respects, was so shocking to the genial 
hospitality of his nature, that he still felt like one disposed to be 
angry, if he but knew how to set about- it. Brenda was the first 
who brought matters to a point, by asking whither they were to go, 



and how they were to spend the night ? The question, which was 
asked in a tone, that, amidst its simplicity, had something dolo- 
rous in it, entirely changed the train of her father's ideas ; and the 
unexpected perplexity of their situation now striking him in a 
comic point of view, he laughed till his very eyes ran over, while 
every rock around him rang, and the sleeping sea-fowl were startled 
from their repose by the loud, hearty explosions of his obstreperous 

The Udaller's daughters, eagerly representing to their father the 
risk of displeasing Noma by this unlimited indulgence of his mirth, 
united their efforts to drag him to a farther distance from her 
dwelling. Magnus, yielding to their strength, which, feeble as it 
was, his own fit of laughter rendered him incapable of resisting, 
suffered himself to be pulled to a considerable distance from 
the Burgh, and then escaping from their hands, and sitting down, 
or rather suffering himself to drop, upon a large stone which lay 
conveniently by the wayside, he again laughed so long and lustily, 
that his vexed and anxious daughters became afraid that there was 
something more than natural in these repeated convulsions. 

At length his mirth exhausted both itself and the Udaller's 
strength. He groaned heavily, wiped his eyes, and said, not 
without feeling some desire to renew his obstreperous cachinna- 
tion, " Now, by the bones of St. Magnus, my ancestor and name- 
sake, one would imagine that being turned out of doors, at this 
time of night, was nothing short of an absolutely exquisite jest ; 
for I have shaken my sides at it till they ache. There we sat, 
made snug for the night, and I made as sure of a good supper and 
a can as ever I had been of either, — and here we are all taken 
aback ! and then poor Brenda'9 doleful voice, and melancholy 
question, of ' What is to be done, and where are we to sleep ? ' In 
good faith, unless one of those knaves, who must needs torment 
the poor woman by their trencher-work before it was wanted, can 
make amends by telling us of some snug port under our lee, we 
have no other course for it but to steer through the twihght on the 
bearing of Burgh-Westra, and rough it out as well as we can by 
the way. I am sorry but for you, girls ; for many a cruize have I 
been upon when we were on shorter allowance than we are like to 
have now. — I would I had but secured a morsel for you, and a 
drop for myself; and then there had been but little to com- 
plain of." 

Both sisters hastened to assure the Udaller that they felt not the 
least occasion for food. 

" Why, that is well," said Magnus : " and so being the case, I 
will not complain of my own appetite, though it is sharper than 


convenient. And the rascal, Nicholas Strumpfer,— what a leer the 
villain gave me as he started the good Nantz into the salt-water ! 
He grinned, the knave, like a' seal on a skerry. — Had it not been 
for vexing my poor kinswoman Noma, I would have sent his mis- 
begotten body, and misshapen jolterhead, after my bonny flask, as 
sure as Saint Magnus lies at Kirkwall ! " 

By this time the servants returned with the ponies, which they 
had very soon caught — these sensible animals finding nothing so 
captivating in the pastures where they had been suffered to stray, 
as inclined them to resist the invitation again to subject them- 
selves to saddle and bridle. The prospects of the party were also 
considerably improved by learning that the contents of their 
sumpter-pony's burden had not been entirely exhausted, — a small 
basket having fortunately escaped the rage of Noma and Pacolet, 
by the rapidity with which one of the servants ha"d caught up and 
removed it. The same domestic, an alert and ready-witted fellow, 
had observed upon the beach, not above three miles distant from 
the Burgh, and about a quarter of a mile off their straight path, a 
deserted Skio, or fisherman's hut, and suggested that they should 
occupy it for the rest of the night, in order that the ponies might 
be refreshed, and the young ladies spend the night under cover 
from the raw evening air. 

When we are delivered from great and serious dangers, our 
mood is, or ought to be, grave, in proportion to the peril we have 
escaped, and the gratitude due to protecting Providence. But few 
things raise the spirits more naturally, or more harmlessly, than 
when means of extrication from any of the lesser embarrassments 
of life are suddenly presented to us ; and such was the case in the 
present instance. The Udaller, relieved from the apprehensions 
for his daughters suffering from fatigue, and himself from too 
much appetite, and too little food, carolled Norse ditties, as he 
spurred Bergen through the twilight, with as much glee and 
gallantry as if the night-ride had been entirely a matter of his 
own free choice. Brenda lent her voice to some of his choruses, 
which were echoed in ruder notes by the' servants, who, in that 
simple state of society, were not considered as guilty of any breach 
of respect by mingling their voices with the song. Minna, indeed, 
was as yet unequal to such an effort ; but she compelled herseff to 
assume some share in the general hilarity of the meeting ; and, 
contrary to her conduct since the fatal morning which concluded 
the Festival of Saint John, she seemed to take her usual interest in 
what was going on around her, and answered with kindness and 
readiness the repeated enquiries concerning her health, with which 
the Udaller every now and then interrupted his carol. And thus 


they proceeded by night, a happier party by far than they had been 
when they traced the same route on the preceding morning, mak- 
ing hght of the difficulties of the way, and promising themselves 
shelter and a comfortable night's rest in the deserted hut which 
they were now about to approach, and which they expected to find 
in a state of darkness and solitude. 

But it was the lot of the Udaller that day to be deceived more 
than once in his calculations. 

"And which way lies this cabin of yours, Laurie?" said the 
Udaller, addressing the intelligent domestic of whom we just 

" Yonder it should be," said Laurence Scholey, " at the head of 
the voe— but, by my faith, if it be the place, there are folk there 
before us— God and Saint Ronan send that they be canny com- 
pany ! " 

In truth there was a light in thfe deserted hut, strong enough to 
glimmer through every chink of the shingles and wreck-wood of 
which it. was constructed, and to give the whole cabin the 
appearance of a smithy seen by night. The universal superstition^ 
of the Zetlanders seized upon Magnus and his escort. 

" They are trows," said one voice. 

" They are witches," murmured another. 

" They are mermaids," muttered a third ; " only hear their wild 
singing 1 " 

All stopped ; and, in effect, some notes of music were audible, 
which Brenda, with a voice that quivered a little, but yet had a 
turn of arch ridicule in its tone, pronounced to be the sound of a 

" Fiddle or fiend," said the Udaller, who, if he believed in such 
nightly apparitions as had struck terror into his iretinue, cer- 
tainly feared them not — " fiddle or fiend, may the devil fetch me 
if a witch Cheats me out of supper to-night, for the second 
time !" 

So saying, he dismounted, clenched his trusty truncheon in his 
hand, and advanced towards the hut, followed by Laurence alone ; 
the rest of his retinue continuing stationary on the beach beside 
his daughters and the ponies. 



What ho, my jovial mates ! come on ! we'll frolic it 
Like fairies frisking in the merry moonshine, 
Seen by the curtal friar, who, from some christening 
Or some blithe bridal, hies belated cell-ward— 
He starts, and changes his bold bottle -swagger 
To churchman's pace professional, and, ransacking 
His treacherous memory for some holy hymn. 
Finds but the roundel of the midnight catch. 

Old Play. 

The stride of the Udaller relaxed nothing of its length or of its 
firmness as he approached the glimmering cabin, from which he 
now heard distinctly the sound of the fiddle. But, if still long and 
firm, his steps succeeded each other rather more slowly than usual ; 
for, like a cautious, though a brave general, Magnus was willing to 
reconnoitre his enemy before assailing him. The trusty Laurence 
Scholey, who kept close behind his master, now whispered into his 
»ar, " So help me, sir, as I believe that the ghaist, if ghaist it be, 
that plays so bravely on the fiddle, must be the ghaist of Maister 
Claud Halcro, or his wraith at least ; for never was bow drawn 
across thairm which brought out the gude auld spring of ' Fair and 
Lucky,' so like his ain." 

Magnus was himself much of the same opinion ; for he knew 
the blithe minstrelsy of the spirited little old man, and hailed the 
hut with a hearty hilloah, which was immediately replied to by the 
cheery note of his ancient messmate, and Halcro himself presently 
made his appearance on the beach. 

The Udaller now signed to his retinue to come up, while he 
asked his friend, after a kind greeting and much shaking of hands, 
" How the devil he came to sit there, playing old tunes in so deso- 
late a place, like an owl whooping to the moon ? " 

" And tell me rather, Fowd," said Claud Halcro, " how you came 
to be within hearing of me."" ay, by my word, and with your 
bonny daughters, too ? — Jarto Minna and Jarto Brenda, I bid you 
welcome to these yellow sands — and there shake hands, as glorious 
John, or some other body, says, upon the same occasion. And 
how came you here like two fair swans, making day out of twilight, 
and turning all you step upon to silver ? " 

" You shall know all about them presently," answered Magnus ; 
" but what messmates have you got in the hut with you ? I think 
I hear some one speaking." 

294 THE PIR.U'E. 

' "None," replied Claud Halcro, "but that poor creature, the 
Factor, and my imp of a boy Giles. I— but come in— come in- 
here you will find us starving in comfort — not so much as a mouth- 
ful of sour sillocks to be had for love or money." 

" That may be in a small part helped," said the Udaller ; " for 
though the best of our supper is gone over the Fitful Crags to the 
sealchies and the dogfish, yet we have got something in the kit 
still. — Here, Laurie, bring up the vifda." 

" Jokul,jokul!"* \wz.s Laurence's joyful answer; and he has- 
tened for the basket. 

"By the bicker of Saint Magnus,"* said Halcro, "and the 
burliest bishop that ever quaffed it for luck's sake, there is no find- 
ing your locker empty, Magnus ! I believe sincerely that ere a 
friend wanted, you could, like old Luggie the warlock, fish tip 
boiled and roasted out of the pool of Kibster." * 

" You are wrong there, Jarto Claud," said Magnus Troil, " for 
far from helping me to a supper, the foul fiend, I believe, has car- 
ried off great part of mine this blessed evening ; but you are 
welcome to share and share of what is left." This was said while 
the party entered the hut. 

Here, in a cabin which smelled strongly of dried fish, and whose 
sides and roof were jet-black with smoke, they found the unhappy 
Triptolemus Yellowley seated beside a fire made of dried sea- 
weed, mingled with some peats and wreck-wood ; his sole com- 
panion a barefooted, yellow-haired Zetland boy, who acted occa- 
sionally as a kind of page to Claud Halcro, bearing his fiddle on 
his shoulder, saddling his pony, and rendering him similar duties 
of kindly observance. The disconsolate agriculturist, for such his 
visage Detokened him, displayed little surprise, and less anima- 
tion, at the arrival of the Udaller and his companions, until, 
after the party had drawn close to the fire, (a neighbourhood 
which the dampness of the night air rendered far from disagree- 
able,) the pannier was opened, and a tolerable supply of barley- 
bread and hung-beef, besides a flask of brandy, (no doubt 
smaller than that which the relentless hand of Pacolet had 
emptied into the ocean,) gave assurances of a tolerable supper. 
Then, indeed, the worthy Factor grinned, chuckled, rubbed his 
hands, and enquired after all friends at Burgh-Westra. 

When they had all partaken of this needful refreshment, the 
Udaller repeated his enquiries of Halcro, and more particularly 
of the Factor, how they came to be nestled in such a remote 
corner at such an hour of night. 

" Maister Magnus Troil," said Triptolemus, when a second cup 
had given him spirits to tell his tale of woe, " I would not have 


you think that it is a little thing that disturbs me. I came of that 
grain that takes a sair wind to shake it. I have seen many a 
Martinmas and many a Whitsunday in my day, whilk are the 
times peculiarly grievous to those of my craft, and I could aye 
bide the bang ; but I think I am like to be dung ower a'thegither 
in this damned country of yours — Gude forgie me for swearing 
— but evil communication corrupteth good manners." 

" Now, Heaven guide us," said the Udaller, "what is the matter 
with the man ? Why, man, if you will put your plough into new 
land, you must look to have it hank on a stone now and then — You 
must set us an example of patience, seeing you come here for our 

"And the deil was in my feet when I did so," said the Factor; 
" I had better have set myself to improve the cairn on Cloch- 

" But what is it, after all," said the Udaller, " that has befallen 
you? — what is it that you complain of?" 

" Of every thing that has chanced to me since I landed on this 
island, which I belieVe was accursed at the very creation," said the 
agriculturist, " and assigned as a fitting station for sorners, thieves, 
whores, (I beg the ladies' pardon,) witches, bitches, and all evil 

" By my faith, a goodly catalogue ! " said Magnus ; " and there 
has been the day, that if I had heard you give out the half of it, I 
should have turned improver myself, and have tried to amend your 
manners with a cudgel.'' 

" Bear with me," said the Factor, " Maister Fowd, or Maister 
Udaller, or whatever else they may call you, and as you are strong 
be pitiful, and consider the luckless lot of any inexperienced person 
who lights upon this earthly paradise of yours. He asks for drink, 
they bring him sour whey — no disparagement to your brandy, Fowd, 
which is excellent — You ask for meat, and they bring you sour 
sillocks that Satan- might choke upon — You call your labourers 
together, and bid them work ; it proves Saint Magnus's day, or 
Saint Ronan's day/ or some infernal saint or other's — or else, 
perhaps, they have come out of bed with the wrong foot foremost, 
or they have seen an owl, or a rabbit has cirossed their path, or 
they have dreamed of a roasted horse — in short, nothing is to be 
done — Give them a spade, and they work as if it burned their 
fingers ; but set them to dancing, and see when they will tire of 
funking and flinging ! " 

" And why should they, poor bodies," said Claud Halcro, " as 
long as there are good fiddlers to play to them ? " 

"Ay, ay," said Triptolemus, shaking his head, "you are a proper 


person to uphold them in such a humour. Well, to proceed :— I 
till a piece of my best ground ; down comes a sturdy beggar that 
wants a kailyard, or a plant-a-cruive, as you call it, and he claps 
down an enclosure in the middle of my bit shot of corn, as lightly 
as if he was baith laird and tenant ; and gainsay him wha likes, 
there he dibbles in his kail-plants ! I sit down to my sorrowful 
dinner, thinking to have peace and quietness there at least, when 
in comes one, two, three, four, or half-a-dozen of skelping long lads, 
from some foolery or anither, misca' me for barring my ain door 
against them, and eat up the best half of what my sister's provi- 
dence — and she is not over bountiful — ^has allotted for my dinner ! 
Then enters a witch, with an ellwand in her hand, and she raises 
the wind or lays it, whichever she likes, majors up and down my 
house as if she was mistress of it, and I am bounden to thank 
Heaven if she carries not the broadside of it away with her ! " 

" Still," said the Fowd, " this is no answer to my question— how 
the foul fiend I come to find you at moorings here ? " 

" Have patience, worthy sir," replied the afflicted Factor, " and 
listen to what I have to say, for I fancy it will be as well to tell 
you the whole matter. You must know, I once thought that I had 
gotten a small godsend, that might have made all these matters 

" How ! a godsend ! Do you mean a wreck. Master Factor? " 
exclaimed Magnus ; " shame upon you, that should have set 
example to others ! " 

"It was no vnreck," said the Factor; "but, if you must needs 
know, it chanced that as I raised an hearthstane in one of the old 
chambers at Stourburgh, (for my sister is minded that there is little 
use in mair fire-places about a house than one, and I wanted the 
stane to knock bear upon,) when, what should I light on but a horn 
full of old coins, silver the maist feck of them, but wi' a bit sprink- 
ling of gold amang them too.* Weel, I thought this was a dainty 
windfa', and so "thought Baby, and we were the mair willing to put 
up with a place where there were siccan braw nest-eggs— and we 
slade down the stane cannily over the horn, which seemed to me to 
be the very cornucopia, or horn of abundance ; and for further 
security. Baby wad visit the room maybe twenty times in the day, 
and mysell at an orra time, to the boot of a' that." 

"On my word, and a very pretty amusement," said Claud 
Halcro, " to look over a horn of one's own siller. I question if 
glorious John Dryden ever enjoyed such a pastime in his life— I 
am very sure I never did." 

" Yes, but you forget, Jarto Claud," said the Udaller, " that the 
Factor was only counting over the money for my Lord the 


Chamberlain. As he is so keen for his lordship's rights in whales 
and wrecks, he would not surely forget him in treasure-trove." 

" A-hem ! a-hem ! a-he — he — hem ! " ejaculated Triptolemus, 
seized at the moment with an awkward fit of coughing-, — " no doubt, 
ray Lord's right in the matter would have been considered, being in 
the hand of one, though I say it, as just as can be found in Angus- 
shire, let alone the Mearns. But mark what happened of late ! One 
day, as I went up to see that all was safe and snug, and just to count 
out the share that should have been his Lordship's — for surely the 
labourer, as one may call the finder, is worthy of his hire — nay, 
some learned men say, that when the finder, in point of trust and in 
point of power, representeth the dominus, or lord superior, he 
taketh the whole ; but let that pass, as a kittle question in apicihts 
juris, as we wont to say at Saint Andrews — Well, sir and ladies, 
when I went to the upper chamber, what should I see but an 
ugsome, ill-shaped, and most uncouth dwarf, that wanted but hoofs 
and horns to have made an utter devil of him, counting over the 
very hornful of siller ! I am no timorous man, Master Fowd, but, 
judging that I should proceed with caution in such a matter — for 
I had reason' to believe that there was devilry in it — I accosted 
him in Latin, (whilk it is maist becoming to speak to aught whilk 
taketh upon it as a goblin,), and conjured him in nomine, and so 
forth, with such words as my poor learning could furnish of a 
suddenty, whilk, to say truth, were not so many, nor, altogether so 
purely latineezed as might have been, had I not been few years at 
college, and many at the pleugh. Well, sirs, he started at first, as 
one that heareth that which he expects not ; but presently recover- 
ing himself, he wawls on me with his grey een, like a wild-cat, and 
opens his mouth, whilk resembled the mouth of an oven, for the deil' 
a tongue he had in it, that I could spy, and took upon his ugly self, 
altogether the air and bearing of a bull-dog, whilk I have seen 
loosed at a fair upon a mad staig ;* whereupon I was something 
daunted, and withdrew myself to call upon sister Baby, who fears 
neither dog nor devil, when there is in question the little penny 
siller. And truly she raise to the fray as I hae seen the Lindsays 
and Ogilvies bristle up, when Donald MacDonnoch, or the like, 
made a start down frae the Highlands on the braes of Islay. But 
an auld useless carline, called Tronda Dronsdaughter, (they might 
call her Drone the sell of her, without farther addition,) flung her- 
self right in my sister's gate, and yelloched and skirled, that you 
would have thought her a whole generation of hounds ; whereupon 
I judged it best to make a yoking of it, and stop the pleugh until I 
got my sister's assistance. Whilk when I had done, and we mounted 
the stair to the apartment in which the said dwarf, devil, or other 


apparition, was to be seen, dwarf, horn, and siller, were as clean 
gane as if the cat had lickit the place where I saw them." 

Here Triptolemus paused in his extraordinary narration, while 
the rest ot the party looked upon each other in surprise, and the 
Udaller muttered to Claud Halcro — " By all tokens, this must have 
been either the devil or Nicholas Strumpfer ; and, if it were him, 
he is more of a goblin than e'er I gave him credit for, and shall be 
apt to rate him as such in future." Then, addressing the Factor, 
he enquired — " Saw ye nought how this dwarf of yours parted 
company ? '' 

" As I shall answer it, no," replied Triptolemus, with a cautious 
look around him, as if daunted by the recollection ; " neither I, nor 
Baby, who had her wits more about her, not having seen this un- 
seemly vision, could perceive any way by whilk he made evasion. 
Only Tronda said she saw him flee forth of the window of the west 
roundel of the auld house, upon a dragon, as she averred. But, as 
the dragon is held a fabulous animal, I suld pronounce her aver- 
ment to rest upon deceptio t/isus." 

"But, may we not ask farther," said Brenda, stimulated by 
curiosity to know as much of her cousin Noma's family as was 
possible, "how all this operated upon Master Yellowley, so as to 
occasion his being in this place at so unseasonable an hour ? " 

" Seasonable it must be. Mistress Brenda, since it brought us 
into your sweet company," answered Claud Halcro, whose mer- 
curial brain far outstripped the slow conceptions of the agriculturist, 
and who became impatient of being so long silent. " To say the 
truth, it was I, Mistress Brenda, who recommended to our friend 
the Factor, whose house I chanced to call at just after this mis- 
chance, (and where, by the way, owing doubtless to the hurry of 
their spirits, I was but poorly received,) to make a visit to our 
other friend at Fitful-head, well judging from certain points of the 
story, at which my other and more particular friend than either " 
(looking at Magnus) " may chance to form a guess, that they who 
break a head are the best to find a plaster. And as our friend 
the Factor scrupled travelling on horseback, in respect of some 
tumbles from our ponies " 

" Which are incarnate devils," said Triptolemus, aloud, mutter- 
ing under his breath, " like every live thing that I have found in 

" Well, Fowd," continued Halcro, " I undertook to carry him to 
Fitful-head in my little boat, which Giles and I can manage as if 
it were an Admiral's barge full manned ; and Master Triptole- 
mus Yellowley will tell you how seamen- like I piloted him to the 
little haven, within a quarter of a mile of Noma's dwelling," 


" I wish to heaven you had brought me as safe back again," said 
the Factor. 

" Why, to be sure," rephed the minstrel, " I am, as glorious 
John says, — 

' A daring pilot in extremity, 
Pleased with the danger when the waves go high, 
I seek the storm — but, for a calm unfit, 
Will steer too near the sands, to show my wit.'" 

" I showed little wit in intrusting myself to your charge,'' said 
Triptolemus ; " and you still less when you upset the boat at the 
throat of the voe, as you call it, when even the poor bairn, that 
was mair than half drowned, told you that you were carrying 
too much sail ; and then ye wad fasten the rape to the bit 
stick on the boat-side, that ye might have time to play on the 

" What ! " said' the Udaller, " make fast the sheets to the 
thwart ? a most unseasonable practice, Claud Halcro." 

" And sae came of it," replied the agriculturist ; " for the neist 
blast (and we are never lang without ane in these parts) whomled 
us as a gudewife would whomle a bowie, and ne'er a thing wad 
Maister Halcro save but his fiddle. The puir bairn swam out like 
a water-spaniel, and I swattered hard for my life, wi' the help of 
ane of the oars ; and here we are, comfortless creatures, that, till 
a good wind blew you here, had naething to eat but a mouthful 
of Norway rusk, that has mair sawdust than ryemeal in it, and 
tastes liker turpentine than anything else." 

"I thought we heard you very merry," said Brenda, "as we 
came along the beach." 

" Ye heard a fiddle, Mistress Brenda," said the Factor ; " and 
maybe ye may think there can be nae dearth, miss, where that is 
skirling. But then it was Maister Claud Halcro's fiddle, whilk, I 
am apt to think, wad skirl at his father's deathbed, or at his ain, 
sae lang as his fingers could pinch the thairm. And it was nae 
sma' aggravation to my misfortune to have him bumming a' sorts 
of springs,— Norse and Scots, Highland and Lawland, English and 
Italian, in my lug, as if nothing had happened that was amiss, and 
we all in such stress and perplexity." 

" Why, I told you sorrow would never right the boat. Factor," 
said the thoughtless minstrel, " and I did my best to make you 
merry ; if I failed, it was neither my fault nor my fiddle's. I have 
drawn the bow across it before glorious John Dryden himself." 

"I will hear no stories about glorious John Dryden," answered 


the Udaller, who dreaded Halcro's narratives as much as Triptole- 
mus did his music,—" I will hear nought of him, but one story to 
every three bowls ol punch, — it is our old paction, you know. But 
tell me, instead, what said Noma to you about your errand ? " 

"Ay, there was anither fine upshot," said Master Yellowley. 
" She wadna look at us, or listen to us ; only she bothered our 
acquaintance, Master Halcro here, who thought he could have sae 
much to say wi' her, with about a score of questions about your 
family and household estate, Master Magnus Troil ; and when she 
had gotten a' she wanted out of him, I thought she wad hae dung 
him ower the craig, like an empty peacod." 

"And for yourself?" said the Udaller. 

" She wadna listen to my story, nor hear sae much as a word 
that I had to say," answered Triptolemus ; " and sae much for 
them that seek to witches and familiar spirits ! " 

"You needed not to have had recourse to Noma's wisdom. 
Master Factor," said Minna, not unwilling, perhaps, to stop -his 
railing against the friend who had so lately rendered her service ; 
"the youngest child in Orkney could have told you, that fairy 
treasures, if they are not wisely employed for the good of others, as 
well as of those to whom they are imparted, do not dwell long with 
their possessors." 

"Your humble servant to command, Mistress Minnie," said 
Triptolemus ; " I thank ye for the hint, — and I am blithe that you 
have gotten your wits — I beg pardon, I meant your health— into 
the barn-yard again. For the treasure, I neither used nor abused 
it, — they that live in the house with my sister Baby wad find it 
hard to do either! — and as fori speaking of it, whilk they say 
muckle offends them whom we in Scotland call Good Neighbours, 
and you call Drows, the face of the auld Norse kings on the 
coins themselves, might have spoken as much about it as ever I 

"The Factor," said Claud Halcro, not unwilling to seize the 
opportunity of revenging himself on Triptolemus, for disgracing 
his seamanship and disparaging his mpsic, — " The Factor was so 
scrupulous, as to keep the thing quiet even from his master, the 
Lord Chamberlain ; but, now that the matter has ta'en wind, he is 
likely to have to account to his master for that which is no longer 
in his possession ; for the Lord Chamberlain will be in no hurry, I 
think, to believe the story of the dwarf. Neither do I think" 
(winking to the Udaller) " that Noma gave credit to a word of 
so odd a story ; and I dare say that was the reason that she 
received us, I must needs say, in a very dry manner. I rather 
thmk she knew that Triptolemus, our friend here, had found 


some oAsr hiding-hole for the money, and that the story of the 
gobhn was all his own invention. For my part, I will never believe 
there was such a dwarf to be seen as the creature Master Yellowley 
describes, until I set my own eyes on him." 
■ " Then you may do so at this moment," said the Factor ; " for, 

by ," (he muttered a deep asseveration as he sprung on his 

feet in great horror,) " there the creature is ! " 

All turned their eyes in the direction in which he pointed, and 
saw the hideous misshapen figure of Pacolet, with his eyes fixed 
and glaring at them through the smoke. He had stolen upon 
their conversation unperceived, until the Factor's eye lighted upon 
him in the manner we have described. There was something so 
ghastly in his sudden and unexpected appearance, that even the 
Udaller, to whom his form was familiar, could not help starting. 
Neither pleased with himself for having testified this degree of 
emotion, however slight, nor with the dwarf who had given cause 
to it, Magnus asked him sharply, what was his business there ? 
Pacolet replied by producing a letter, which he gave to the Udaller, 
uttering a sound resembling the word Shogh. 

" That is the Highlandman's language," said the Udaller — 
" didst thou learn that, Nicholas, when you lost your own ? " 

Pacolet nodded, and signed to him to read his letter. 

" That is no such easy matter by fire-light, my good friend," 
replied the UdaUer; "but it may concern Minna, and we must 

Brenda offered her assistance, but the UdaUer answered, " No, 
no, my girl, — Noma's letters must be read by those they are written 
to. Give the knave, Strumpfer, a drop of brandy the while, though 
he little deserves it at my hands, considering the grin with which 
he sent the good Nantz down the crag this morning, as if it had 
been as much ditch-water; 

" WiU you be this honest gentleman's cup-bearer — his Ganymede, 
friend Yellowley, or shall I ? " said Claud Halcro aside to the 
Factor ; while Magnus Trpil, having carefully wiped his spectacles, 
which he produced from a large copper case, had disposed them on 
his nose, and was studying the epistle of Noma. 

" I would not touch him, or go near him, for all the Carse of 
Gowrie," said the Factor, whose fears were by no means entirely 
removed, though he saw that the dwarf was received as a creature 
of flesh and blood by the rest of the company ; " but I pray you to 
ask him what he has done with my horn of coins ? " 

The dwarf, who heard the question, threw back his head, and 
displayed his enormous throat, pointing to it with his finger. 

" Nay, if he has swallowed them, there is no more {o be said," 


replied the Factor ; only I hope he will thrive on them as a cow 
on wet clover. He is dame Noma's servant it's like, — such man, 
such mistress ! But if theft and witchcraft are to go unpunished 
in this land, my lord must find another factor ; for I have been 
used to live in a country where men's worldly gear was keepit from 
infang and outfang thief, as well as their immortal souls from the 
claws of the deil and his cummers, — sain and save us !" 

The agriculturist was perhaps the less reserved in expressing his 
complaints, that the Udaller was for the present out of hearing, 
having drawn Claud Halcro apart into another corner of the 

" And tell me," said he, " friend Halcro, what errand took the^ 
to Sumburgh, since I reckon it was scarce the mere pleasure of 
sailing in partnership with yonder barnacle .'' " 

" In faith, Fowd," said the bard, " and if you will have the truth, 
I went to speak to Noma on your affairs." 

"On my affairs?" rephed the Udaller; "on what affairs of 
mine ? " 

" Just touching your daughter's health. I heard that Noma 
refused your message, and would not see Eric Scambester. Now, 
said I to myself, I have scarce joyed in meat, or drink, or music, or 
augh't else, since Jarto Minna has been so ill ; and I may say, 
literally as well as figuratively, that my day and night have been 
made sorrowful to me. In short, I thought I might have some 
more interest with old Noma than another, as scalds and wise 
women were always accounted something akin ; and I undertook 
the journey with the hope to be of some use to my old friend and 
his lovely daughter." 

"And it was most kindly done of you, good warm-hearted 
Claud," said the Udaller, shaking him warmly by the hand, — " I 
ever said you showed the good old Norse heart amongst all thy 
fiddling and thy folly. — Tut, man, never wince for the matter, but 
be blithe that thy heart is better than thy head. Well, — and I 
warrant you got no answer from Noma?" 

" None to purpose," rephed Claud Halcro ; but she held me 
close to question about Minna's illness, too,— and I told her how I 
had met her abroad the other morning in no very good weather, 
and how her sister Brenda said she had hurt her foot ; — in shorty 
I told her all and everything 1 knew." 

"And something more besides, it would seem," said the 
Udaller ; " for I, at least, never heard before that Minna had hurt 

" O, a scratch ! a mere scratch ! " said the old man ; " but I 
was startlQd about it — terrified lest it had been the bite of a dog, 

THE PIRAtE. 383 

or some hurt from a venomous thing. I told all to Noma, 

" And what," answered the Udaller, " did she say, in the way of 

" She bade me begone about my business, and told me that the 
issue would be known at the Kirkwall Fair : and said just the like 
to this noodle of a Factor — it was all that either of us got for our 
labour," said Halcro. 

" That is strange," said Magnus. " My kinswoman writes me 
in this letter not to fail going thither with my daughters. This 
Fair runs strongly in her head ; — one would think she intended to 
lead the market, and yet she has nothing to buy or to sell there 
that I know of And so you came away as wise as you went, and 
swamped your boat at the mouth of the voe ?" 

" Why, how could I help it ?'' said the poet. " I had set the boy 
to steer, and as the flaw came suddenly off shore, I could not let 
go the tack and play on the fiddle at the same time. But it is all 
well enough, — salt-water never hai-med Zetlander, so as he could 
get out of it ; and, as Heaven would have it, we were within man's 
depth of the shore, and chancing to find this skio, we should have 
done well enough, with shelter and fire, and are much better than 
well with your good cheer and good company. But it wears late, 
and Night and Day must be both as sleepy as old Midnight can 
make them. There is an inner crib here, where the fishers slept, — 
somewhat fragrant with the smell of their fish, but that is whole- 
some. They shall bestow themselves there, with the help of what 
cloaks you have, and then we will have one cup of brandy, and one 
stave of glorious John, or some little trifle of my own, and so sleep 
as sound as cobblers." 

"Two glasses of brandy, if you please," said the Udaller, "if our 
stores do not run dry ; but not a single stave of glorious John, or 
of any one else to-night." 

And this being arranged and executed agreeably to the peremp- 
tory pleasure of the Udaller, the whole party consigtied themselves 
to slumber for the night, and on the next day departed for their 
several habitations, Claud Halcr© having previously arranged with 
the Udaller that he would accompany him and his daughters on 
their proposed visit to Kirkwall. 



" By this hand, thou thiiik'st me as far in the devil's book as 
thou and Falstaff, for obduracy and persistency. Let the end try 
the man.... Albeit I could tell to thee, (as to one it pleases me, for 
fault of a better, to call my friend,) I could be sad, and sad indeed 

Henry IV., Part 2d. 

We must now change the scene from Zetland to Orkney, and 
request our readers to accompany us to the ruins of an elegant, 
though ancient structur*, called the Earl's Palace. These remains, 
though much dilapidated, st;ll exist in the neighbourhood of the 
massive and venerable pile, which Norwegian devotion dedicated 
to Saint Magnus the Martyr, and, being contiguous to the Bishop's 
Palace, which is also ruinous, the place is impressive, as exhibiting 
vestiges of the mutations both in Church and State which have 
affected Orkney, as well as countries more exposed to such convul- 
sions. Several parts of these ruinous buildings might be selected 
(under suitable modifications) as the model of a Gothic mansion, 
provided architects would be contented rather to imitate what is 
really beautiful in thkt species of building, than to make a medley 
of the caprices of the order, confounding the military, ecclesias- 
tical, and domestic styles of all ages at random, with additional 
fantases and combinations of their own device, " all formed out of 
the builder's brain." 

The Earl's Palace forms three sides of an oblong square, and 
has, even in its ruins, the air of an elegant yet massive structure, 
uniting, as was usual in the residence of feudal princes, the charac- 
ter of a palace and of a castle. 'A great banqueting-hall, com- 
municating with several large rounds, or projecting turret-rooms, 
and having at either end an immense chimney, testifies the ancient 
Northern hospitality of the Earls of Orkney, and communicates, 
almost in the modern fashion, with a gallery, or withdrawing 
room, of corresponding dimensions, and having, like the hall, its 
projecting turrets. The lordly hall itself is lighted by a fine Gothic 
window of shafted stone at one end, and is entered by a spacious 
and ' elegant staircase, consisting of three flights of stone steps. 
The exterior ornaments and proportions of the ancient building 
are also very handsome ; but, being totally unprotected, this 
remnant of the pomp and grandeur of Earls, who assumed the 
license as well as the dignity of petty sovereigns^ is now fast 


crumbling to decay, and has suffered considerably since the date of 
our story. 

With folded arms and downcast looks the pirate Cleveland was 
pacing slowly the ruined hall which we have just described ; a 
place of retirement which he had probably chosen because it was 
distant from public resort. His dress was considerably altered 
from that which he usually wore in Zetland, and seemed a sort of 
uniform, richly laced, and exhibiting no small quantity of em- 
broidery ; a hat with a plume, and a small sword very handsomely 
mounted, then the constant companion of every one who assumed 
the rank of a gentleman, showed his pretensions to that character. 
But if his exterior was so far improved, it seemed to be otherwise 
with his health and spirits. He was pale, and had lost both the 
fire of his eye and the vivacity of his step, and his whole appear- 
ance indicated melancholy of mind, or suffering of body, or a 
combination of both evils. 

As Cleveland thus paced these ancient riiins, a young man, of a 
light and slender form, whose showy dress seemed to have been 
studied with care, yet exhibited more extravagance than judgment 
or taste, whose manner was a janty affectation of the free and easy 
rake of the period, and the expression of whose countenance was 
lively, with a cast of effrontery, tripped up the staircase, entered 
the hall, and presented himself to Cleveland, who merely nodded 
to him, and pulling his hat deeper over his brows, resumed his 
solitary and discontented promenade. 

The stranger adjusted his own hat, nodded in return, took 
snuff, with the air of a petit maitre, from a richly chased gold box, 
offered it to Cleveland as he passed, and being repulsed rather 
coldly, replaced the box in his pocket, folded his arms in his turn, 
and stood looking with fixed attention on his motions whose 
solitude he had interrupted. At length Cleveland stopped short, 
as if impatient of being longer the subject of his observation, and 
said abruptly, " Why can I not be left alone for half an hour, and 
what the devil is it that you waiit ? " 

" I am glad you spoke &st," answered the stranger, carelessly ; 
" I was determined to know whether you were Clement Cleveland, 
or Cleveland's ghost, and they say ghosts never take the first word, 
so I now set it down for yourself in life and limb ; and here is a 
fine old hurly-house you have found out for an owl to hide himself 
in at mid-day, or a ghost to revisit the pale glimpses of the moon, 
as the divine Shakspeare says." 

" Well, well," answered Cleveland, abruptly, " your jest is made, 
and now let us have your earnest." 

" In earnest, then. Captain Cleveland," replied his companion, 
" I think you know me for your friend." x 


I am content to suppose so," said Cleveland. 

" It is more than supposition," replied the young man ; " I have 
proved it— proved it both here and elsewhere." 

" Well, well," answered Cleveland, " I admit you have been 
always a friendly fellow — and what then ?" 

" Well, well— and what then ? " repUed the other ; " this is but a 
brief way of thanking folk. Look you. Captain, here is Benson, 
Barlowe, Dick Fletcher, and a few others of us who wished you 
well, have kept your old comrade Captain Goffe in these seas upon 
the look-out for you, when he and Hawkins, and the greater part 
of the ship's company, would fain have been down on the Spanish 
Main, and at the old trade." 

" And I wish to God that you had all gone about your business," 
said Cleveland, " and left me to my fate." 

" Which would have been to be informed against and hanged. 
Captain, the first time that any of these Dutch or English rascals, 
whom you have lightened of their cargoes, came to set their eyes 
upon you ; and no place more likely to meet with seafaring men, 
than in these islands. And here, to screen you from such a risk, 
we have been wasting our precious time, till folk are grown very 
peery ; and when we have no more goods or money to spend 
amongst them, the fellows will be for grabbing the ship." 

" Well, then, why do you not sail off without me ? " said Cleve- 
land — " There has been fair partition, and all have had their 
share — let all do as they like. I have lost, my ship, and having 
been once a Captain, I will not go to sea under command of Goffe 
or any other man. Besides, you know well enough that both 
Hawkins and he bear me ill-will for keeping them from sinking 
the Spanish brig, with the poor devils of negroes on board." 

" Why, what the foul fiend is the matter with thee ? " said his 
companion; "Are you Clement Cleveland, our own old true- 
hearted Clem of the Cleugh, and do you talk of being afraid of 
Hawkins and Goffe, and a score of such fellows, when you have 
myself, and Barlowe, and Dick Fletcher at your back ? When was 
it we deserted you, either in council or in fight, that you should be 
afraid of our flinching now ? And as for serving under Goffe, I 
hope it is no new thing for gentlemen of fortune who are going on 
the account, to change a Captain now and then ? Let us alone for 
that, — Captain you shall be ; for death rock me asleep if I serve 
under that feUow Goffe, who is as very a bloodhound as ever 
sucked bitch ! — No, no, I thank you — my Captain must have a 
little of the gentleman about him, howsoever. Besides, you know, 
it was you who first dipped my hands in the dirty water, and 
turned me from a stroller by land, to a rover by sea." 


"Alas, poor Bunce !" said Cleveland, "you owe me little thanks 
for that service." 

" That is as you take it," replied Bunce ; " for my part, I see no 
harm in levying contributions on the public either one way or 
t'other. But I wish you would forget that name of Bunce, and call 
nie Altamont, as I have often desired you to do. I hope a gentle- 
man of the roving trade has as good a right to have an alias as a^ 
stroller, and I never stepped on the boards but what I was Alta- 
mont at the least." 

" Well, then. Jack Altamont," replied Cleveland, " since Altamont 
is the word " 

" Yes, but Captain, yack is not the word, though Altamont be 
so. Jack Altamont ? — why, 'tis a velvet coat with paper lace — Let 
it be Frederick, Captain ; Fredeirick " Altamont is all of a 

" Frederick be it, then, with all my'heart," said Cleveland ; " and 
pray tell me, which of your names will sound best at the head of 
the Last Speech, Confession, and Dying Words of John Bunce, 
alias Frederick Altamont, who was this morning hanged at Execu- 
tion-dock, for the crime of Piracy upon the High Seas ? " 

" Faith, I cannot answer that question, without another can of 
grog, Captain j so if you will go down with me to Bet Haldane's 
on the quay, I will bestow some thought on the matter, with the 
help of a right pipe of Trinidado. We will have the gallon bowl 
filled with the best stuff you ever tasted, and I know some smart 
wenches who will help us to drain it. But you shake your head — 
you're not i' the vein ? — Well, then, I will stay with you ; for by 
this hand, Clem, you shift me not off. Only I will ferret you out of 
this burrow of old stones, and carry you into sunshine and fair air. 
— Where shall we go ?" 

" Where you will," said Cleveland, " so that you keep out of the 
way of our own rascals, and all others." 

" Why, then," replied Bunce, " you and I will go up to the Hill 
of Whitford, which overlooks the town, and walk together as gravely 
and honestly as a pair of well-employed attorneys." 

As they proceeded to leave the ruinous castle, Bunce, turning 
back to look at it, thus addressed his companion : 

" Hark ye, Captain, dost thou know who last inhabited this old 

" An Earl of the Orkneys, they say," replied Cleveland. 

" And are you avised what death he died of.'" said Bunce ; " for 
I have heard that it was of a tight neck-collar— a hempen fever, or 
the like." 

" The people here do say," replied Cleveland,- " that his Lordship, 

X 3 


some nondred years ago, had the mishap to become acquainted 
with the nature of a loop and a leap in the air." 

" Why, la ye there now ! " said Bunce ; " there was some credit 
in being hanged in those days, and in such worshipful company. 
And what might his lordship have done to deserve such pro- 

" Plundered the liege subjects, they say," replied Cleveland ; " slain 
and wounded them, fired upon his Majesty's flag, and so forth." 

" Near akin to a gentleman rover, then," said Bunce, making a 
theatrical bow towards the old building ; " and, therefore, my most 
potent, grave, and reverend Signior Earl, I crave leave to call you 
my loving cousin, and bid you most heartily adieu. I leave you in 
the good company of rats and mice, and so forth, and I cari-y with 
me an honest gentleman, who, having of late had no more heart 
than a mouse, is now desirous to run away from his profession and 
friends like a rat, and would therefore be a most fitting denizen of 
your Earlship's palace." 

" I would advise you not to speak so loud, my good friend 
Frederick Altamont, or John Bunce," said Cleveland ; " when you 
were on the stage, you might safely rant as loud as you listed ; but, 
in your present profession, of which you are so fond, every man 
speaks under correction of the yard-arm, and a running noose." 

The comrades left the little town of Kirkwall in silence, and 
ascended the Hill of Whitford, which raises its brow of dark heath, 
uninterrupted by enclosures or cultivation of any kind, to the north- 
ward of the ancient Burgh of Saint Magnus. The plain at the foot 
of the hill was already occupied by numbers qf persons who were 
engaged in making preparations for the Fair of Saint OUa, to be 
held upon the ensuing day, and which forms a general rendezvous 
to all the neighbouring islands of Orkney, and is even frequented 
by many persons from the more distant archipelago of Zetland. It 
is, in the words of the Proclamation, " a free Mercat and Fair, 
holden at the good Burgh of Kirkwall on the third of August, being 
Saint OUa's day," and continuing for an indefinite space thereafter, 
extending from three days to a week, and upwards. The fair. is of 
great antiquity, and derives its name from Olaus, Olave, OUaw, the 
celebrated Monarch of Norway, who, rather by the edge of his 
sword than any milder argument, introduced Christianity,into those 
isles, and was respected as the patron of Kirkwall some time before 
he shared that honour with Saint Magnus the Martyr. 

It was no part of Cleveland's purpose to mingle in the busy scene 
which was here going on ; and, turning their route to the left, they 
soon ascended into undisturbed solitude, save where the grouse, 
more plentiful in Orkney, perhaps, than in any other part of the 


British dominions, rose in covey, and went off before tliem.* 
Having continued to ascend till they had wellnigh reached the 
summit of the conical hill, both turned round, as with one consent, 
to look at and admire the prospect beneath. 

The lively bustle which extended between the foot of the hill and 
the town, gave life and variety to that part of the scene ; then was 
seen the town itself, out of which arose, like a great mass, superior 
in proportion as it seemed to the whole burgh, the ancient Cathedral 
of Saint Magnus, of the heaviest order of Gothic architecture, but 
grand, solemn, and stately, the work of a distant age, and of a 
powerful hand. The quay, with the shipping, lent additional 
vivacity to the scene ; and not only the whole beautiful bay, which 
lies betwixt the promontories of Inganess and Ouanterness, at the 
bottom of which Kirkwall is situated, but all the sea, so far as 
visible, and in particular the whole strait betwixt the island of 
Shapinsha and that called Pomona, or the Mainland, was covered 
and enlivened by a variety of boats and small vessels, freighted from 
distant islands to convey passengers or merchandise to the Fair of 
Saint OUa. 

Having attained the point by which this fair and busy prospect 
was most completely commanded, each of the strangers, in seaman 
fashion, had recourse to his spy-glass, to assist the naked eye in 
considering the bay of Kirkwall, and the numerous vessels by which 
it was traversed. But the attention of the two companions seemed 
to be arrested by different objects. That of Bunce, or Altamont, as 
he chose to call himself, was riveted to the armed sloop, where, 
conspicuous by her square rigging and length of beam, with the 
English jack and pennon, which they had the precaution to keep 
flying, she lay among the merchant vessels, as distinguished from 
them by the trim neatness of her appearance, as a trained soldier 
amongst a crowd of clowns. 

" Yonder she lies," said Bunce ; " I wish to God she was in the 
bay of Honduras — you Captain, on the quarter-deck, I your lieu- 
tenant, and Fletcher quarter-master, and fifty stout fellows under 
us — I should not wish to see these blasted heaths and rocks again 
for a while ! — And Captain you shall soon be. The old brute Goffe 
gets drunk as a lord every day, swaggers, and shoots, and cuts, 
among the crew ; and, besides, he has quarrelled with the people 
here so damnably, that they will scarce let water or provisions go 
on board of us, and we expect an open breach every day." 

As Bunce received no answer, he turned short round on his 
companion, and, perceiving his attention otherwise engaged, 
exclaimed, — " What the devil is the matter with you ? or what can 
you see in all that trumpery small-craft, which is only loaded with 


Stock-fish, and ling, and smoked geese, and tubs of butter that is 
worse than tallow ?— the cargdfes of the whole lumped together 
would not be worth the flash of a pistol.— No, no, give me such a 
chase as we might see from the mast-head off the island of Trinidado. 
Your Don, rolling as deep in the water as a grampus, deep-loaden 
with rum, sugar, and bales of tobacco, and all the rest ingots, 
moidores, and gold dust ; then set all sail, clear the deck, stand to 
quarters, up with the Jolly Roger*— we near her— we make her out 
to be well manned and armed" 

" Twenty guns on her lower deck," said Cleveland. 

" Forty, if you will," retorted Bunce, " and we have but ten 
mounted — never mind. The Don blazes away — never mind yet, 
my brave lads— run her alongside, and on board with you — to work, 
with your grenadoes, your cutlasses, pole-axes, and pistols — The 
Don cries Misericordia, and we share the cargo without co licendo, 

" By my faith," said Cleveland, " thou takest so kindly to the 
trade, that all the world may see that no honest man was spoiled 
when you were made a pirate. But you shall not prevail on me to 
go farther in the devil's road with you ; for you know yourself that 
what is got over his back is spent — you wot how. In a week, or a 
■ month at most, the rum and the sugar are out, the bales of tobacco 
have become smoke, the moidores, ingots, and gold dust, have got 
out of our hands, into those of the quiet, honest, conscientious folks, 
who dwell at Port Royal and elsewhere — wink hard on our trade as 
long as we have money, but not a jot beyond. Then we have cold 
looks, and it may be a hint is given to the Judge Marshal ; for, 
when our pockets are worth nothing, our honest friends, rather than 
want, will make money upon our heads. Then comes a high gallows 
and a short halter, and so dies the Gentleman Rover. I tell thee, 
I will leave this trade ; and, when I turn my glass from one of these 
barks and boats to another, there is not the worst of them which I 
would not row for life, rather than continue to be what I have been. 
These poor men make the sea a means of honest livelihood and 
friendly communication between shore and shore, for the , mutual 
benefit of the inhabitants ; but we have made it a road to the ruin 
of others, and to our own destruction here and in eternity. — I am 
determined to turn honest man, and use this life no longer ! " 

" And where will your honesty take up its abode, if it please you ?" 
said Bunce. — "You have broken the laws of every nation, and the 
hand of the law will detect and crush you wherever you may take 
refuge. — Cleveland, I speak to you more seriously than I am wont 
to do. I have had my reflections, too ; and they have been bad 
enough, though they lasted but a few minutes, to spoil me weeks of 

THE pirate:. 311 

joviality. But here is the matter, — what can we do but go on as 
we have done, unless we have a direct purpose of adorning the 
yard-arm ? " 

" We may claim the benefit of the proclamation to those of our 
sort who come in and surrender," said Cleveland. 

" Umph ! " answered his companion, dryly ; " the date of that 
day of grace has been for some time over, and they may take the 
penalty or grant the pardon at their pleasure. Were I you, I would 
not put my neck in such a venture." 

" Why, others have been admitted but lately to favour, and why 
should not I ? " said Cleveland. 

" Ay," replied his associate, " Harry Glasby and some others 
have been spared ; but Glasby did what was called good service, in 
betraying his comrades, and re-taking the Jolly Fortune ; and that 
I think you would scorn, even to be revenged of the brute Goffe 

" I would die a thousand times sooner," said Cleveland. 

" I will be sworn for it," said Bunce ; " and the others were fore- 
castle fellows — petty larceny rogues, scarce worth the hemp it 
would have cost to hang them. But your name has stood too high 
amongst the gentlemen of fortune for you to get off so easily. You 
are the prime buck of the herd, and will be marked accordingly." 

" And why so, I pray you ? " said Cleveland ; " you know well 
enough my aim. Jack." 

" Frederick, if you please,'' said Bunce. 

" The devil take your folly ! — Prithee keep thy wit, and let us be 
grave for a moment." 

" For a moment — be it so," said Bunce ; " but I feel the spirit of 
Altamont coming fast upon me, — I have been a grave man for ten 
minutes already." 

" Be so then for a little longer," said Cleveland ; " I know, Jack, 
that you really love me ; and, since we have come thus far in this 
talk, I will trust you entirely. Now tell me, why should I be refused 
the benefit of this gracious proclamation ? I have borne a rough 
outside, as thou knowest ; but, in time of need, I can show the 
numbers of lives which I have been the means of saving, the pro- 
perty which I have restored to those who owned it, when, without 
my intercession, it would have been wantonly destroyed. In short, 
Bunce, I can show " 

" That you were as gentle a thief as Robin Hood himself," said 
Bunce; "and, for that reason, I, Fletcher, and the better sort 
among us, love you, as one who saves the character of us Gentlemen 
Rovers from utter reprobation. — Well, suppose your pardon made 
out, what are you to do next ?— what class in society will receive 


you ? — with whom will you associate ? Old Drake, in Queen Bess's 
time, could plunder Peru and Mexico without a line of commission 
to show for it, and, blessed be her memory ! he was knighted for it 
on his return. And there was Hal Morgan, the Welshman, nearer 
our time, in the days of Merry King Charles, brought all his gettings 
home, had his estate and his country-house, and who but he ? But 
that is all ended now — once a pirate, and an outcast for ever. The 
poor devil may go and live, shunned and despised by every one, in 
some obscure seaport, with such part of his guilty earnings as 
courtiers and clerks leave him — for pardons do not pass the seals 
for nothing ; — and, when he takes his walk along the pier, if a 
stranger asks, who is the down-looking, swarthy, melancholy man, 
for whom all make way, as if he brought the plague in his person, 
the answer shall be, that is such a one, the pardoned pirate ! — No 
honest man will speak to him, no woman of repute will give him 
her hand." 

"Your picture is too highly coloured, Jack," said , Cleveland, 
suddenly interrupting his friend ; " there are women — there is one 
at least, that would be true to her lover, even if he were what you 
have described." 

Bunce was silent for a space, and looked fixedly at his friend. 
" By my soul ! " he said, at length, " I begin to think myself a con- 
jurer. Unlikely as it all was, I could not help suspecting from the 
beginning that there was a girl in the case. Why, this is worse 
than Prince Volscius in love, ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

"Laugh as you will," said Cleveland, "it is true; — there is a 
maiden who is contented to love me, pirate as I am ; and I will 
fairly own to you, Jack, that, though I have often at times detested 
our roving life, and myself for following it, yet I doubt if I could 
have found resolution to make the break which I have now resolved 
on, but for her sake." 

"Why, then, God-a-mercy !" replied Bunce, "there is no speak- 
ing sense to a madman ; and love in one of our trade. Captain, is 
little better than lunacy. The girl must be a rare creature, for a 
wise man to risk hanging for her. But, hark ye, may she not be a 
little touched, as well as yourself i'-^and is it not sympathy that has 
done it ? She cannot be one of our ordinary cockatrices, but a girl 
of conduct and character." 

" Both are as undoubted as that she is the most beautiful and 
bewitching creature whom the eye ever opened upon," answered 

" And she loves thee, knowing thee, most noble Captain, to be a 
commander among those gentlemen of fortune, whom the vulgar 
call pirates ?'" 


" Even so — I am assured of it," said Cleveland. 

" Why, then," answered Bunce, " she is either mad in good 
earnest, as I said before, or she does not know what a pirate is." 

"You are right in the last point," replied Cleveland. " She has 
been bred in such remote simplicity, and utter ignorance of what is 
evil, that she compares our occupation with that of the old Norse- 
men, who swept sea and haven with their victorious galleys, 
established colonies, conquered countries, and took the name of 
Sea- Kings." 

" And a better one it is than that of pirate, and comes much to 
the same purpose, I dare say," said Bunce. " But this must be a 
mettled wench ! — why did you not bring her aboard ? methinks it 
was pity to baulk her fancy." 

" And do you think," said Cleveland, " that I could so utterly 
play the part of a fallen spirit as to avail myself of her enthusiastic 
error, and bring an angel of beauty and innocence acquainted with 
such a hell as exists on board of yonder infernal ship of ours ? — I 
tell you, my friend, that, were all my former sins doubled in weight 
and in dye, such a villainy would have outglared and outweighed 
them all." 

" Why, then. Captain Cleveland," said his confidant, " methinks 
it was but a fool's part to come hither at all. The news must one 
day have gone abroad, that the celebrated pirate Captain Cleveland, 
with his good sloop the Revenge, had been lost on the Mainland of 
Zetland, and all hands perished ; so you would have remained hid 
both from friend and enemy, and might have married your pretty 
Zetlander, and converted your sash and scarf into fishing-nets, and 
your cutlass into a harpoon, and swept the seas for fish instead of 

" And so I had determined," said the Captain ; " but a Jagger, 
as they call them here, like a meddling, peddhng thief as he is, 
brought down intelligence to Zetland of your lying here, and I was 
fain to set off, to see if you were the consort of whom I had told 
them, long before I thought of leaving the roving trade." 

" Ay," said Bunce, " and so far you judged well. For, as you nad 
heard of our being at Kirkwall, so we should have soon learned that 
you were at Zetland ; and some of us for friendship, some for 
hatred, and some for fear of your playing Harry Glasby upon us, 
would have come down for the purpose of getting you into our 
company again." 

" I suspected as much," said the Captain, " and therefore was 
fain to decline the courteous offer of a friend, who proposed to bring 
me here about this time. Besides, Jack, I recollected, that, as you 
say, my pardon will not pass the seals without money, my own was 


waxing low — no wonderj thou knowest I was never a churl of it — 
And so " 

"And so you came for your share of the cobs?" rephed his 
friend — " It was wisely done ; and we shared honourably— so far 
Goffe has acted up to articles, it must be allowed. But keep your 
purpose of leaving him close in your breast, for I dread his playing 
you some dog's trick or other ; for he certainly thought himself 
sure of your share, and will hardly forgive your coming alive to dis- 
appoint him." 

" I fear him not," said Cleveland, " and he knows that well. I 
would I were as well clear of the consequences of having been his 
comrade, as I hold myself to be of all those which may attend his 
ill-will. Another unhappy job I may be troubled with — I hurt a 
young fellow, who has been my plague for some time, in an unhappy 
brawl that chanced the morning I left Zetland." 

" Is he dead ? " asked Bunce : " It is a more serious question 
here, than it would be on the Grand Caimains or the Bahama Isles, 
where a brace or two of fellows may be shot in a morning, and no 
more heard of, or asked about them, than if they were so many 
wood-pigeons. But here it may be otherwise ;> so I hope you have 
not made your friend immortal." 

"I hope not," said the Captain, "though my anger has been fatal 
to those who have given me less provocation. To say the truth, I 
was sorry for the lad notwithstanding, and especially as , I was 
forced to leave him in mad keeping." 

" In mad keeping ? " said Bunce ; " why, what means that ? " 

" You shall hear," replied his friend. " In the first place, you are 
to know, this young man came suddenly on me while I was trying 
to gain Minna's ear for a private interview before I set sail, that I 
might explain my purpose to her. Now, to be broken in on by the 
accursed rudeness of this young fellow at such a moment " 

" The interruption deserved death," said Bunce, " by all the laws 
of love and honour ! " 

" A truce with your ends of plays, Jack, and listen one moment. 
— The brisk youth thought proper to retort, when I commanded 
him to be gone. I am not, thou knowest, very patient, and en- 
forced my commands with a blow, which he returned as roundly. 
We struggled, till I became desirous that we should part at any 
rate, which I could only effect by a stroke of my poniard, which, 
according to old use, I have, thou knowest, always about me. I 
had scarce done this when I repented ; but there was no time to 
think of any thing save escape and concealment, for, if the house 
rose on me, I was lost ; as the fiery old man, who is head of the 
family, would have done justice on me had I been his brother. I 



took the body hastily on my shoulders to carry it down to the sea- 
shore, with the purpose of throwing it into a riva, as they call them, 
or chasm of great depth, where it would have been long enough in 
being discovered. This done, I intended to jump into the boat 
which I had lying ready, and set sail for Kirkwall. But, as I was 
walking hastily towards the beach with my burden, the poor young 
fellow groaned, and so apprized me that the wound had not been 
> instantly fatal. I was by this time well concealed amongst the 
ro'cks, and, far from desiring to complete my crime, I laid the 
young man on the ground, and was doing what I could to stanch 
the blood, when suddenly an old woman stood before me. She 
was a person whom I had frequently seen while in Zetland, and to 
whom they ascribe the character of a sorceress, or, as the negroes 
say, an Obi woman. She demanded the wounded man of me, and 
I was too much pressed for time to hesitate in complying with her 
request. More she was about to say to me, when we heard the 
voice of a silly old man, belonging to the family, singing at some 
distance. She then pressed her finger on her lip as a sign of 
secrecy, whistled very low, and a shapeless, deformed brute of a 
dwarf coming to her assistance, they carried the wounded man into 
one of the caverns with which the place abounds, and I got to 
my boat and to sea with all expedition. If that old hag be, as 
they say, connected with the King of the Air, she favoured 
me that morning with a turn of her caUing ; for not even the 
West Indian tornadoes, which we have weathered together, made 
a wilder racket than the squall that drove me so fa!r out of our 
course, that, without a pocket-compass, which I chanced to have 
about me, I should never have recovered the Fair Isle, for which 
we run, and'where I found a brig which brought me to this place. 
But, whether the old woman meant me weal or woe, here we came 
at length in safety from the sea, and here I remain in doubts and 
difficulties of more kinds than one." 

" O, the devil take the Sumburgh-head," said Bunce, " or what- 
ever they call the rock that you knocked our clever little 
Revenge a'gainst ! " 

" Do not say /knocked her on the rock," said Cleveland ; "have 
I not told you fifty times, if the cowards had not taken to their 
boats, though I showed them the danger, and told them they 
would all be swam.ped, which happened the instant they cast 
off the painter, she would have been afloat at this moment ? 
Had they stood by me and the ship, their lives would have been 
saved ; had I gone with them, mine would have been lost ; who 
can say which is for the best ? " 

" Well," replied his friend, " I know your case now, and can the 


better help and advise. I will be true to you, Clement as the blade 
to the hilt ; but I carniot think that you should leave us. As 
the old Scottish song says, 'Wae's my heart that we should 
sunder !'— But come, you will aboard with us to-day, at any rate?" 

" I have no other place of refuge," said Cleveland, with a sigh. 

He then once more ran his eyes over the bay, directing his spy- 
glass upon several of the vessels which traversed its surface, in 
hopes, doubtless, of discerning the vessel of Magnus Troil, and 
then followed his companion down the hill in silence. 


I strive like to the vessel in the tide-way, 

"VVhich, lacking fkvouring breeze, hath not the power 

To stem the powerful current. — Even so. 

Resolving daily to forsake my vices. 

Habits, strong circumstance, renew'd temptation, 

Sweep me to sea again. — O heavenly breath. 

Fill thou my sails, and aid the feeble vessel. 

Which ne'er can reach the blessed port without thee ! 

'Tis Odds when Evens meet. 

Cleveland, with his friend Bunce, descended the hill for a time 
in silence, until at length the latter renewed their conversation. 

" You have taken this fellow's wound more on your conscience 
than you need, Captain — I have known you do more, and think less 

" Not on such sliglit provocation. Jack," replied Cleveland. 
" Besides, the lad saved my life ; and, say that I requited him the 
favour, still we should not have met on such evil terms ; but I trust 
that he may receive aid from that woman, who has certainly strange 
skill in simples." 

" And over simpletons, Captain," said his friend, " in w^hich class 
I must e'en put you down, if you think more on this subject. That 
you should be made a fool of by a young woman, why it is many an 
honest man's case ; — but to puzzle your pate about the mummeries 
of an old one, is far too great a folly to indulge a friend in. Talk 
to me of your Minna, since you so call her, as much as you will ; 
but you have no title to trouble your faithful squire-errant with 
your old mumping magician. And novif here we are once more 
amongst the booths and tents, which these good folk are pitching — 
let us look, and see whether we may not find some fun and frolic 


amongst them. In merry England, now, you would have seen on 
such an occasion, two or three bands of strollers, as many fire- 
eaters and conjurors, as many shows of wild beasts ; but, amongst 
these grave folks, there is nothing but what savours of business 
and of commodity — no, not so much as a single squall from my 
merry gossip Punch and his rib Joan." 

As Bunce thus spoke, Cleveland cast his eyes on some very gay 
clothes, which with other articles, hung out upon one of the booths, 
that had a good deal more of ornament and exterior decoration than 
the rest. There was in front a small sign of canvas painted, an- 
nouncing the variety of goods which the owner of the booth, Bryce 
Snailsfoot, had on sale, and the reasonable prices at which. he pro- 
posed to offer them to the pubhc. For the further gratification of 
the spectator, the sign bore on the opposite side an emblematic 
device, resembling our first parents in their vegetable garments, 
with this legend — 

" Poor sinners whom the snake deceives, 
Are fain to cover them with leaves. 
Zetland hath no leaves, 'tis true. 
Because that trees are none, or few ; 
But we have flax and taits of woo'. 
For linen cloth and wadmaal blue'; 
And we have many of foreign knacks 
Of finer waft, than woo' or flax.' 
Ye gallanty Lambmas lads^* appear. 
And bring your Lambmas sisters here, 
Bryce Snailsfoot spares not cost or care, 
To pleasure every gentle pair." 

While" Cleveland was perusing these goodly rhymes, which 
brought to his mind Claud Halcro, to whom, as the poet laureate of 
the island, ready with his talent alike in the service of the great 
and small, they probably owed their origin, the worthy proprietor 
of the booth, having cast his eye upon him, began with hasty and 
trembling hand to remove some of the garments, which, as the sale 
did not commence till the ensuing day, he had exposed either for 
the purpose of airing them, or to excite the admiration of the 

" By my word. Captain," whispered Bunce to Cleveland, " you 
must have had that fellow under your clutches one day, and he re- 
members one gripe of your talons, and fears another. See how fast 
he is packing his wares out of sight, so soon as he set eyes on 
you ! " 

"His wares ! " said Cleveland, on looking more attentively at his 
proceedings ; " By Heaven, they are my clothes which I left in a 


chest at Jarlshof when the Revenge was lost there— Why, Br>'ce 
Snailsfoot, thou thief, dog, and villain, what means this ? Have 
you not made enough of us by cheap buying and dear selling, that 
you have seized on my trunk and wearing apparel ? " 

Bryce Snailsfoot, who probably would otherwise not have been 
wilUng to see his friend the Captain, was now by the vivacity of 
his attack obliged to pay attention to him. He first whispered to 
his little foot-page, by whom, as we have already noticed, he was 
usually attended, " Run to the town-council-house, jarto, and tell 
the provost and bailies they maun send some of their officers 
, speedily, for here is like to be wild wark in the fair." 

So having said, and having seconded his commands by a push 
on the shoulder of his messenger, which sent him spinning out of 
the shop as fast as heels could carry him, Bryce Snailsfoot turned 
to his old acquaintance, and, with that amplification of words and 
exaggeration of manner, which in Scotland is called " making a 
phrase," he ejaculated — " The Lord be gude to us ! the worthy 
Captain Cleveland, that we were all sae grieved about, returned to 
relieve our hearts again ! Wat have my cheeks been for you," 
(here Bryce wiped his eyes,) " and blithe am I now to see you re- 
stored to your sorrowing friends ! " 

"My sorrowing friends, you rascal!" said Cleveland; " I will 
give you better cause for sorrow than ever you had on my account, 
if you do not tell me instantly where you stole all my clothes." 

" Stole ! " ejaculated Bryce, casting up his eyes ; " now the 
Powers be gude to us ! — the poor gentleman has lost his reason in 
that weary gale of wind." 

" Why, you insolent rascal ! " said Cleveland, grasping the cane 
which he carried, " do you think to bamboozle me with your im- 
pudence ? As you would have a whole head on your shoulders, 
and your bones in a whole skin, one minute longer, tell me where 
the devil you stole my wearing apparel ? " 

Bryce Snailsfoot ejaculated once more a repetition of the word 
" stole ! Now Heaven be gude to us ! " but at the same time, con- 
scious that the Captain was likely to be sudden in execution, cast 
an anxious look to the town, to see the loitering aid of the civil 
power advance to his rescue. 

" I insist on an instant answer," said the Captain, with upraised 
weapon, " or else I will beat you to a mummy, and throw out all 
your frippery upon the common ! " 

Meanwhile, Master John Bunce, who considered the whole affair 
as an excellent good jest, and not the worse one that it made Cleve- 
land very angry, seized hold of the Captain's arm, and, without 
any idea of ultimately preventing him from executing his threats,. 


interfered just SO much as was necessary to protract a discussion 
so amusing. 

" Nay, let the honest man speak," he said, " messmate ; he has 
as fine a cozening face as ever stood on a knavish pair of shoulders, 
and his are the true flourishes of eloquence, in the course of which 
men snip the cloth an inch too short Now, I wish you to consider 
that you are both of a trade, — he measures bales by the yard, and 
you by the sword, — and so I will not have him chopped up till he 
has had a fair chase." 

" You are a fool ! " said Cleveland, endeavouring to shake his 
friend off. — " Let me go ! for, by Heaven, I will be foul of 

" Hold him fast," said the pedlar, " good dear merry gentleman, 
hold him fast ! " 

" Then say something for yourself," said Bunce ; " use your gob- 
box, man ; patter away, or, by my soul, I will let him loose on 
you ! " 

" He says Lstole these goods," said Bryce, who now saw himself 
run so close, that pleading to the charge became inevitable. " Now, 
how could I steal them, when they are mine by fair and lawful 
purchase ? " 

"Purchase! you beggarly vagrant!" said Cleveland; "from 
whom did you dare to buy my clothes ? or who had the impudence 
to sell them ? " 

" Just that worthy professor Mrs Swertha, the housekeeper at 
Jarlshof, who acted as your executor," said the pedlar; "and a 
grieved heart she had." 

" And so she was resolved to make a heavy pocket oi it, I sup- 
pose," said the Captain ; " but how did she dare to sell the things 
left in her charge ? " 

" Why, she acted all for the best,' good woman ! " said the pedlar, 
anxious to protract the discussion until the arrival of succours ; 
" and, if you will but hear reason, I am ready to account with you 
for the chest and all that it holds." 

" Speak out, then, and let us have none of thy damnable evasions," 
said Captain Cleveland ; " if you show ever so little purpose of 
being somewhat honest for once in thy life, I will not beat thee." 

"Why, you see, noble Captain," said the pedlar, — and then 
muttered to himself, " plague on Pate Paterson's cripple knee, they 
will be waiting for him, hirpling useless body ! " then resumed 
aloud ^-" The country, you see, is in great perplexity, — great 
perplexity, indeed, — ^much perplexity, truly. There was your honour 
missing, that was loved by great and small — clean missing — no- 
where to be heard of— a lost man — umquhile — dead — defunct ! " 


" You shall find me alive to your cost, you scoundrel ! " said the 
irritated Captain. 

" Weel, but take patience, — ye will not hear a body speak," said 
the Jagger. — "Then there was the lad Mordaunt Mertoun " 

" Ha ! " said the Captain, " what of him? " 

" Cannot be heard of," said the pedlar ; " clean and clear tint, — 
a gone youth ; — fallen, it is thought, from the craig into the sea — he 
was aye venturous. I have had dealings with him for furs and 
feathers, whilk he swapped against powder and shot, and the like ; 
and now he has worn out from among us — clean retired — utterly 
vanished, like the last puff of an auld wife's tobacco pipe." 

" But what is all this to the Captain's clothes, my dear friend ? " 
said Bunce ; " I must presently beat you myself unless you come to 
the point." 

" Weel, weel, — ^patience, paience,'' said Bryce waving his hand ; 
" you will get all time enough. Weel, there are two folks gane, as 
I said, forbye the distress at Burgh- Westra about Mistress Minna's 
sad ailment " 

" Bring not her into your buffoonery, sirrah," said Cleveland, in a 
tone of anger, not so loud, but far deeper and more concentrated 
than he had hitherto used ; " for, if you name her with less than 
reverence, I will crop the ears out of your head, and make you 
swallow them on the spot ! " 

"He, he, he ! " faintly laughed the Jagger ; " that were a pleasant 
jest ! you are pleased to be witty. But, to say naething of Burgh- 
Westra, there is the carle at Jarlshof, he that was the auld Mertoun, 
Mordaunt's father, whom men thought as fast bound to the place 
he dwelt in as the Sumburgh-head itsell, naething maun serve him 
but he is lost as weel as the lave about whom I have spoken. And 
there's Magnus Troil (wi' favour be he named) taking horse ; and 
there is pleasant Maister Claud Halcro taking boat, whilk he steers 
worst of any man in Zetland, his head running on rambling rhymes ; 
and the Factor body is on the stir — the Scots Factor, — him that is 
aye speaking of dykes and delving, and such unprofitable wark, 
which has naething of merchandise in it, and he is on the lang trot, 
too ; so that ye might say, upon a manner, the tae half of the Main- 
land of Zetland is lost, and the other is running to and fro seeking 
it — awfu' times ! " 

Captain Cleveland had subdued his passion, and listened to this 
tirade of the worthy man of merchandise, with impatience indeed, 
yet not without the hope of hearing something that might concern 
him. But his companion was now become impatient in his turn : — 
" The clothes ! " he exclaimed, " the clothes, the clothes, the 
clothes ! " accompanying each repetition of the words with a 


flourish of his cane, the dexterity of which consisted in coming 
mighty near the Jagger's ears without actually touching them. 

The Jagger, shringing from each of these demonstrations, con- 
tinued to exclaim, " Nay, sir — good sir— worthy sir — for the clothes 
— I found the worthy dame in great distress on account of her old 
maister, and on account of her young maister, and on account of 
worthy Captain Cleveland ; and because of the distress of the 
worthy Fowd's family, and the trouble of the great Fowd himself, — 
and because of the Factor, and in respect of Claud Halcro, and on 
other accounts and respects. Also we mingled our sorrows and our 
tears with a bottle, as the holy text hath it, and called in the Ran- 
zelman to our council, a worthy man, Niel Ronaldson byname, who 
hath a good reputation." 

Here another flourish of the cane came so very near that it partly 
touched his ear. The Jagger started back, and the truth, or that 
which he desired should be considered as such, bolted from him 
without more circumlocution ; as a cork, after much unnecessary 
buzzing and fiizzing, springs forth from a bottle of spruce beer. 

" In brief, what the deil mair would you have of it ? — the woman 
sold me te hkist of clothes— they are mine by purchase, and that is 
what I will live and die upon." 

" In other words," said Cleveland, " this greedy old hag had the 
impudence to sell what was none of hers j and you, honest Bryce 
Snailsfoot, had the assurance to be the purchaser ? " 

" Ou dear, Captain," said the conscientious pedlar, " what wad 
ye hae had twa poor folk to do ? There was yoursell gane that 
aught the things, and Maister Mordaiint was gane that had them 
in keeping, and the things were but damply put up, where they were 
rotting with moth and mould, and" 

" And so this old thief sold them, and you bought them, I sup- 
pose, just to keep them from spoiling ? " said Cleveland. 

''Weel then," said the merchant, " I'm thinking, noble Captain, 
that wad be just the gate of it." 

" Well, then, hark ye, you impudent scoundrel," said the Captain. 
" I do not wish to dirty my fingers with you, or to make any dis- , 
turbance in this place " 

" Good reason for that. Captain— aha ! " said the Jagger, slyly. 

" I will break your bones if you speak another word," replied 
Cleveland. " Take notice — I offer you fair terms — give me back 
the black leathern pocket-book with the lock upon it, and the purse 
with the doubloons, with some few of the clothes I want, and keep 
the rest in the devil's name ! " 

" Doubloons ! ! ! "—exclaimed the Jagger, with an exaltation of 
voice intende'd to indicate the utmost extremity of surprise, — " What 



do I ken of doubloons ? my dealing was for doublets, and not for 
doubloons — If there were doubloons in the kist, doubtless Swertha 
will have them in safe keeping for your honour — the damp would- 
na harm the gold, ye ken." 

" Give me back my pocket-book and my goods, you rascally 
thief," said Cleveland, "or without a word more I wiE beat your 
brains out ! " 

The wily Jagger, casting eye around him, saw that succour was 
near, in the shape of a* party of officers, six in number; for 
several rencontres with the crew of the pirate had taught the magis- 
trates of Kirkwall to strengthen their police parties when these 
strangers were in question. 

" Ye had better keep the thief Xa suit yoursell, honoured Captain," 
said the Jagger, emboldened by the approach of the civil power ; 
" for wha kens how a' these fine goods and bonny-dies were come by? " 

This was uttered with such provoking .slyness of look and tone, 
that Cleveland made no further delay, but, seizing upon the Jagger 
by the collar, dragged him over his temporary counter, which was, 
with all the goods displayed thereon, overset in the scuffle ; and, 
holding him with one hand, inflicted on him with the other a severe 
beating with his cane. All this was done so suddenly and with' 
such energy, that Bjyce Snailsfoot, though rather a stout man, was 
totally surprised by the vivacity of the attack, and made scarce any 
other effort at extricating himself than by roaring for assistance 
like a bull-calf. The " loitering aid " having at length come up, 
the officers made an effort to seize on Cleveland, and by their 
united exertions succeeded in compelling him to quit hold of the 
pedlar, in order to defend himself from their assault. This he did 
with infinite strength, resolution, and dexterity, being at the same 
time well seconded by his friend Jack Bunce, who had seen with glee 
the drubbing sustained by the pedlar, and now combated tightly to 
save his companion from the consequences. But, as there had been 
for some time a growing feud between the townspeople and the crew 
of the Rover, the former, provoked by the insolent deportment of 
the seamen, had resolved to stand by each other, and to aid the 
civil power upon such occasions of riot as should occur in future; 
and so many assistants came|up to the rescue of the constables, that 
Cleveland, after fighting most manfully, was at lengtli brought to 
the ground and made prisoner. His more fortunate companion had 
escaped by speed of foot, as soon as he saw that the day must 
needs be determined against them. 

The proud heart of Cleveland, which, even in its perversion, had 
in its feeling something of original nobleness, was like to burst, 
when he found himself borne down in this unworthy brawl— dragged 


into the town as a prisoner, and hurried through the streets towards 
the Council-house, where the magistrates of the burgh were then 
seated in council. The probability of imprisonment, with all its 
consequences, rushed also upon his mind, and he cursed an hundred 
times the folly which had not rather submitted to the pedlar's 
knavery, than involved him in so perilous an embarrassment. 

But just as they approached the door of the Council-house, which 
is situated in the middle of the little town, the face of matters was 
suddenly changed by a new and unexpected incident. 

Bunce, who had designed, by his precipitate retreat,to serve as well 
his friend as himself, had hied him to the haven, where the boat of the 
Rover was then lying, and called the coxswain and boat's crew to 
the assistance of Cleveland. They now appeared on the scene 
— fierce desperadoes, as became their calling, with features bronzed 
by the tropical sun under which they had pursued it. They rushed 
at once amongst the crowd, laying about them with their stretchers ; 
and, forcing their way up to Cleveland, speedily delivered him from 
the hands of the officers, who were totally unprepared to resist an 
attack so furious and so sudden, and carried him off in triumph 
towards the quay, — two or three of their number facing about from 
time to time to keep back the crowd, whose efforts to recover the 
prisoner were the less violent, that most of the seamen were armed 
with pistols and cutlasses, as well as with the less lethal weapons 
which alone they had as yet made use of. 

They gained their boat in safety, and jumped into it, carrying 
along with them Cleveland, to whom circumstances seemed to offer 
no other refuge, and pushed off for their vessel, singing in chorus 
to their oars an old ditty, of which the natives of Kirkwall could 
only hear the first stanza : 

" Robin Rover 

Said to his crew, 
' Up with the black flag, 

Down with the blue !— 
Fire on the main-top, 

Fire on the bow, 
Fire on the gun-deck. 
Fire down below ! ' " 

The wild chorus of their voices was heard long after the words 
ceased to be intelligible. — And thus was the pirate Cleveland again 
thrown almost involuntarily amongst those desperate associates, 
from whom he had so often resolved to detach himself. 



Parental love, my friend, has power o'er wisdom, 
And is the charm, which, like the falconer's lure, 
Can bring from heaven the highest soaring spirits. — 
So, when famed Prosper dofPd his magic robe, 
It was Miranda pluck'd it from his shoulders. 

Old Play. 

Our wandering narrative must now return to Mordaunt Mer- 
toun.— We left him in the perilous condition of one who has 
received a severe wound, and we now find him in the condition of 
a convalescent — pale, indeed, and feeble from the loss of much 
blood, and the effects of a fever which had followed the injury, but 
so far fortunate, that the weapon, having glanced on the ribs, had 
only occasioned a great effusion of blood, without touching any 
vital part, and was now wellnigh healed ; so efficacious were the 
vulnerary plants and salves with which it had been treated by the 
sage Noma of Fitful-head. 

~ The matron and her patient now sat together in a dwelling in a 
remote i.sland. He had been transported, during his illness, and 
ere he had perfect consciousness, first to her singular habitation 
near Fitful-head, and thence to her present abode, by one of the 
fishing-boats on the station of Burgh-Westra. For such was the 
command possessed by Noma over the superstitious character of 
her countrymen, that she never failed to find faithful agents to 
execute her commands, whatever these happened to be ; and, as 
her orders were generally given under injunctions of the strictest 
secresy, men reciprocally wondered at occurrences, which had in 
fact been produced by their own agency, and that of their neigh- 
bours, and in which, had they communicated freely with each other, 
no shadow of the marvellous would have remained. 

Mordaunt was now seated by the fire, in an apartment indiffe- 
rently well furnished, having a book in his hand, which he looked 
upon from time to time with signs of ennui and impatience ; feel- 
ings which at length so far overcame him, that, flinging the volume 
on the table, he fixed his eyes on the fire, and assumed the attitude 
of one who is engaged in unpleasant meditation. 

Noma, who sat opposite to him, and appeared busy in the com- 
position of some drug or unguent, anxiously left her seat, and, 
approaching Mordaunt, felt his pulse, making at the same time the 
most affectionate enquiries whether he felt any sudden pain, and 
where it was seated. The manner in which Mordaunt replied to 


these earnest enquiries, although worded so as to express gratitude 
for her kindness, while he disclaimed any feeling of indisposition, 
did not seem to give satisfaction to the Pythoness. 

" Ungrateful boy ! " she said, " for whom I have done so much ; 
you whom I have rescued, by my power and skill, from the very 
gates of death,— are you already so weary of me, that you cannot 
refrain from showing how desirous you are to spend, at a distance 
from me, the very first intelligent days of the life which I have 
restored you ? " 

" You do me injustice, my kind preserver,'' replied Mordaunt ; 
" I am not tired of your society ; but I have duties which recall 
me to ordinary life." 

" Duties ! " repeated Noma ; ■' and what duties can or ought to 
interfere with the gratitude which you owe to me ? — Duties ! Your 
thoughts are on the use of your gun, or on clambering among the 
rocks in quest of sea-fowl. For these exercises your strength doth 
not yet fit you ; and yet these are the duties to which you are so 
anxious to return ! " 

" Not so, my good and kind mistress," said Mordaunt. — " To 
name one duty, out of many, which makes me seek to leave you, 
now that my strength permits, let me mention that of a son to his 

" To your father ! " said Noma, with a laugh that had some- 
thing in it almost frantic. " O ! you know not how we can, in these 
islands, at once cancel such duties ! And, for your father," she 
added, proceeding more calmly, " what has he done ' for you, to 
deserve the regard and duty you speak of.' — Is he not the same, 
who, as you have long since told me, left you for so many years 
poorly nourished among strangers, without enquiring whether you 
were alive or dead, and only sending, from time to time, supplies 
in such fashion, as men relieve the leprous wretch to whom they 
fling alms from a distance ? And, in these later years, when he had 
made you the companion of his misery, he has been, by starts your 
pedagogue, by starts your tormentorj but never, Mordaunt, never 
your father." 

" Something of truth there is in what you say,'' replied Mordaunt: 
" My father is not fond ; but he is, and has ever been, effectively 
kind. Men have not their affections in their power ; and it is a 
child's duty to be grateful for the benefits which he receives, even 
when coldly bestowed. My father has conferred instruction on me, 
and I am convinced he loves me. He is unfortunate ; and even if 
he loved me not " 

"And he does not love you," said Noma, hastily; "he never 
loved any thing, or any one, save himself. He is unfortunate, but 


well are his misfortunes deserved.— O Mordaunt, you have one 
parent only,— one parent, who loves you as the drops of the heart- 
blood ! " 

" I know I have but one parent," replied Mordaunt ; " my 
mother has been long dead.— But your words contradict eaclj 

" They do not— they do not," said Noma, in a paroxysm of the 
deepest feeling ; " you have but one parent. Your unhappy mother 
is not dead — I would to God that she were !— but she is not dead. 
Thy mother is the only parent that loves thee ; and I— I, Mor- 
daunt," throwing herself on his neck, " am that most unhappy— 
yet most happy mother." 

She closed him in a strict and convulsive embrace ; and tears, 
the first, perhaps, which she had shed for many years, burst in 
torrents as she sobbed on his neck. Astonished at what he heard, 
felt, and saw,— moved by the excess of her agitation, yet disposed 
to ascribe this burst of passion to insanity, — Mordaunt vainly 
endeavoured to tranquillize the mind of this extraordinary person. 

" Ungrateful boy ! " she said, " who but a mother would have 
watched over thee as I have watched ? From the instant I saw thy 
father, when he little thought by whom he was observed, a space 
now many years back, I knew him well ; and, under his charge, I 
saw you, then a stripling, — while Nature; speaking loud in my 
bosom, assured me, thou wert blood of my blood, and bone of my 
bone. Think how often you have wondered to see me, when least 
expected, in your places of pastime and resort ! Think how often 
my eye has watched you on the giddy precipices, and muttered 
those charms which subdue the evil demons, who show themselves 
to the climber on the giddiest point of his path, and force him to 
quit his hold ! Did I not hang around thy neck, in pledge of thy 
safety, that chain of gold, which an Elfin King gave to the founder 
of our race ? Would I have given that dear gift to any but to the 
son 6f my bosom ? — Mordaunt, my power has done that for thee 
that a mere mortal mother would dread to think of. I have con- 
jured the Mermaid at midnight, that thy bark might be prosperous 
on the Haaf ! I have hushed the winds, and navies have flapped 
their empty sails against the mast in inactivity, that you might 
safely indulge your sport upon the crags ! " 

Mordaunt, perceiving that she was growing yet wilder in her 
talk, endeavoured to frame an answer which should be at once 
indulgent, soothing, and calculated to allay the rising warmth of 
her imagination. 

" Dear Noma," he said, " I have indeed many reasons to call 
you mother, who have bestowed so many benefits upon me ; and 


from me you shall ever receive the affection and duty of a child. 
But the chain you mentioned, it has vanished from my neck— I 
have not seen it since the ruffian stabbed me." 

" Alas ! and can you think of it at this moment ?" said Noma, 
in a sorrowful accent.—" But be it so ;— and know, it was I took it 
from thy neck, and tied it around the neck of her who is dearest to 
you ; in token that the union betwixt you, which has been the only 
earthly wish which I have had the power to form, shall yet, even yet, 
be accomphshed— ay, although hell should open to forbid the bans ! " 

" Alas ! " said Mordaunt, with a sigh, " you remember not the 
difference betwixt our situation— her father is wealthy, and of 
ancient birth." 

" Not more wealthy than will be the heir of Noma of Fitful- 
head,^ answered the Pythoness—" not of better or more ancient 
blood than that which flows in thy veins, derived from thy mother, 
the descendant of the same Jarls and Sea-Kings from whom 
Magnus boasts his origin.'— Or dost thou think, like the pedant and 
fanatic strangers who have come amongst us, that thy blood is dis- 
honoured because my union with thy father did not receive the 
sanction of a priest ? — Know, that we were wedded after the ancient 
manner of the Norse — our hands were clasped within the circle of 
Odin * with such deep vows of eternal fidelity, as even the laws 
of these usurping Scots would have sanctioned as equivalent to a 
blessing before the altar. To the offspring of such a union, Mag- 
nus has nought to object. It was weak — it was criminal, on my 
part, but it conveyed no infamy to the birth of my son." 

The composed and collected manner in which Noma argued 
these points began to impose upon Mordaunt an incipient belief in 
the truth of what she said ; and, indeed, she added so many cir- 
cumstanqes, satisfactorily and rationally connected with each other, 
as seemed to confute the notion that her story was altogether the 
delusion of that insanity which sometimes showed itself in her 
speech and actions. A thousand confused ideas rushed upon him, 
when he supposed it possible that the unhappy person before him 
might actually have a right to claim from him the respect and 
affection due to a parent from a son. He could only surmount 
them by turning his mind to a different, and scarce less interesting 
topic, resolving within himself to take time for farther enquiry and 
mature consideration, ere he either rejected or admitted the claim 
which Noma preferred upon his affection and duty. His benefac- 
tress, at least, she undoubtedly was, and he could not err in paying 
her, as such, the respect and attention due from a son to a mother ; 
and so far, therefore, he might gratify Noma without otherwise 
standing committed. 


"And do you then really think, my mother,— since so you bid me 
term you,"— said Mordaunt, " that the proud Magnus Troil may, 
by any inducement, be prevailed upon to relinquish the angry feel- 
ings which he has of late adopted towards me, and to permit my 
addresses to his daughter Brenda ? " 

" Brenda?" repeated Noma— "who talks of Brenda?— it was of 
Minna that I spoke to you." 

" But it was of Brenda that I thought," replied Mordaunt,," of 
her that I now think, and of her alone that I will ever think." 

" Impossible, my son !" replied Noma. "You cannot be so dull 
of heart, so poor of spirit, as to prefer the idle mirth and housewife 
simplicity of the younger sister, to the deep feeling and high jnind 
of the noble-spirited Minna ? Who would stoop to gather the 
lowly violet, that might have the rose for stretching out his 

" Some think the lowliest flowers are the sweetest," replied Mor- 
daunt, " and in that faith will I live and die." 

" You dare not teU me so ? " answered Noma, fiercely ; then, 
instantly changing her tone, and taking his hand in the most affec- 
tionate manner, she proceeded : — " You must not — you will ript tell 
me so, my dear son — you will not break a mother^s heart in the 
very first hour in which she has embraced her child ? — Nay, do not 
answer, but hear me. You must wed Minna — I have bound around 
her neck a fatal amulet, on which the happiness of both depends. 
The labours of my life have for years had this direction. Thus it 
must be, and not otherwise — Minna must be the bride of my 
son ! " 

" But is not Brenda equally near, equally dear to you ?" replied 

" As near in blood," said Noma, " but not so dear, no not half 
so dear, in affection. Minna's mild, yet high and contemplative 
spirit, renders her a companion meet for one, whose ways, like 
mine, are beyond the ordinary paths of this world. Brenda is a 
thing of common and ordinary life, an idle laugher and scoffer, 
who would level art with ignorance, and reduce power to weakness, 
by disbelieving and turning into ridicule whatever is beyond the 
grasp of her own shallow intellect." 

" She is, indeed," answered Mordaunt, " neither superstitious nor 
enthusiastic, and I love her the better for it. Remember also, my 
mother, that she returns my affection, and that Minna, if she loves 
any one, loves the stranger Cleveland." 

" She does not — she dares not," answered Noma, " nor dares he 
pursue her farther. I told him, when first he came to Burgh- Westra, 
that I destined her for you." 


"And to that rash annunciation," said Mordaunt, "I owe this 
man's persevering enmity— my wound, and woUnigh the loss of 
my life. See, my mother, to what point your intrigues have 
already conducted us, and, in Heaven's name, prosecute them no 
farther ! " 

It seemed as if this reproach struck Noma with the force, at 
once, and vivacity of lightning ; for she struck her forehead with 
her hand, and seemed about to drop from her seat. Mordaunt, 
greatly shocked, hastened to catch her in his arms, and, though 
scarce knowing what to say, attempted to utter some incoherent 

" Spare me, Heaven, spare me ? " were the first words which she 
muttered ; " do not let my crime be avenged by his means ! — Yes, 
young man," she said, after a pause, " you have dared to tell what 
I 4ared not tell myself. You have pressed that upon me, which, if 
it be truth, I cannot believe, and yet continue to live ! " 
■ Mordaunt in vain endeavoured to interrupt her with protestations 
of his ignorance how he had offended or grieved her, and of his 
extreme regret that he had unintentionally done either. She pro- 
ceeded, while her voice trembled wildly, with vehemence. 

"Yes ! you have touched on that dark suspicion which poisons 
the consciousness of my power, — the sole boon which was given me 
in exchange for innocence and for peace of mind ! Your voice 
joins that of the demon which, even while the elements confess me 
their mistress, whispers to me, ' Noma, this is but delusion — your 
power rests but in the idle belief of the ignorant, supported by a 
thousand petty artifiess of your own.' — This is what Brenda says 
— this is what you would say ; and false, scandalously false, as it is, 
there are rebellious thoughts in this wild brain of mine," (touching 
her forehead with her finger as she spoke,) " that, like an insurrec- 
tion in an invaded country, arise to take part against their dis- 
tressed sovereign. — Spare me, my son ! " she continued, in a voice 
of supplication, " spare me ! — the sovereignty of which your words 
would deprive me, is no unviable exaltation. Few would covet to 
rule over gibbering ghosts, and howling winds, and raging currents. 
My throne is a cloud, my sceptre a meteor, my realm is only 
peopled with fantasies ; but I must either cease to be, or continue 
to be the mightiest as well as the most miserable of beings."* 

" Do not sJDCak thus mournfully, my dear and unhappy benfac- 
tress," said Mordaunt, much affected ; " I will think of your power 
whatever you would have me beUeve. But, for your own sake, 
view the matter otherwise. Turn your thoughts from such agitat- 
ing and mystical studies — from such wild subjects of contemplation, 
into another and a better channel. Life will again have charms, 
and religion will have comforts, for you." 


She listened to him with some composure, as if she weighed his 
counsel, and desired to be guided by it ; but, as he ended, she 
shook her head and exclaimed — 

" It cannot be. I must remain the dreaded — the mystical — the 
Reimkennar— the controller of the elements, or I must be no more ! 
I have no alternative, no middle station. My post must be high on 
yon lofty headland, where never stood human ^oot save mine— or I 
must sleep at the bottom of the unfathomable ocean, its white 
billows booming over my senseless corpse. The parricide shall 
never also be denounced as the impostor ! " 

" The parricide ! " echoed Mordaunt, stepping back in horror. 

" Yes, my son ! " answered Noma, with a stern composure, even 
more frightful than her former impetuosity, "within these fatal 
walls my father met his death by my means. In yonder chamber 
was he found a livid and lifeless corpse. Beware of filial dis- 
obedience, for such are its fruits ! " 

So saying, she arose and left the apartment, where Mordaunt 
remained alone to meditate at leisure upon the extraordinary com- 
munication which he had received. He himself had been taught 
by his father a disbelief in the ordinary superstitions of Zetland ; 
and he now saw that Noma, however ingenious in duping others, 
could not altogether impose on hersel/! This was a strong circum- 
stance in favour of her sanity of intellect ; but, on the other hand, 
her imputing to herself the guilt of parricide seemed so wild and 
improbable, as, in Mordaunt's opinion, to throw much doubt upon 
her other assertions. 

He had leisure enough to make up his mind on these particulars, 
for no one approached the solitary dwelling, of which Noma, her 
dwarf, and he himself, were the sole inhabitants. The Hoy island 
in which it stood is rude, bold, and lofty, consisting entirely of three 
hills — or rather one hugh mountain divided into three summits, 
with the chasms, rents, and valleys, which descend from its 
summit to the sea, while its crest, rising to great height, and 
shivered into rocks which seem almost inaccessible, intercepts the 
mists as they drive from the Atlantic, and, often obscured from the 
human eye, forms the dark and unmolested retreat of hawks, eagles, 
and other birds of prey.* 

The soil of the island is wet, mossy, cold, and unproductive, 
presenting a sterile and desolate appearance, excepting where the 
sides of small rivulets, or mountain ravines, are fringed with dwarf 
bushes of birch, hazel, and wild currant, some of them so tall as to 
be denominated trees, in that bleak and bare country. 

But the view of the sea-beach, which was Mordaunt's favourite 
walk, when his convalescent state began to permit him to take 
exercise, had charms which compensated the wild appearance of 


the interior. A broad and beautiful sound, or strait, divides this 
lonely and mountainous island from Pomona, and in the centre 
of that sound lies, like a tablet composed of emerald, the beautiful 
and verdant little island of Grsemsay. On the distant Mainland 
is seen the town or village of Stromness, the excellence of whose 
haven is generally evinced by a considerable number of shipping 
in the roadstead, and, from the bay growing narrower, and lessen- 
ing as it recedes, runs inland into Pomona, where its tide fills 
the fine sheet of vvater called the Loch of Stennis. 

On this beach Mordaunt was wont to wander for hours, with 
an eye not insensible to the beauties of the view, though his 
thoughts were agitated with the most embarrassing meditations on 
his own situation. He was resolved to leave the island as soon 
as the establishment of his health should permit him to travel ; 
yet gratitude to Noma, of whom he was at least the adopted, if 
not the real son, would not allow him to depart without her pei'- 
mission, even if he could obtain means of conveyance, of which 
he saw little possibility. It was only by importunity that he 
extorted from his hostess a promise, that, if he would consent 
to regulate his motions according to her directions, she would 
herself convey him to the capital of the Orkney Islands, when 
the approaching Fair of Saint OUa should take place there. 


Hark to the insult loud, the bitter sneer, 
The fierce threat answering to the brutal jeer ; 
Oaths fly like pistol-shots, and vengeful words 
Clash with each other like conflicting swords — 
The robber's quarrel by such sounds is shown. 
And true men have some chance to gain their own. 

Captivity, a Poem. 

When Cleveland, borne off in triumph from his assailants in 
Kirkwall, found himself once more on board the pirate-vessel, his 
arrival was hailed with hearty cheers by a considerable part of the 
crew, who rushed to shake hands with him, and offer their con- 
gratulations on his return ; for the situation of a Buccanier Captain 
raised him very little above the level of the lowest of his crew, 
who, in all social intercourse, claimed the privilege of being his 


When his faction, for so these clamorous friends might be 
termed, had expressed their own greetings, they hurried Cleveland 
forward to the stern, where Goffe, their present commander, was 
seated on a gun, listening in a sullen and discontented mood to the 
shout which announced Cleveland's welcome. He was a man 
betwixt forty and fifty, rather under the middle size, but so very 
strongly made, that his crew used to compare him to a sixty-four 
cut down. Black-haired, bull-necked, and beetle-browed, his 
clumsy strength and ferocious countenance contrasted strongly 
with the manly figure and open countenance of Cleveland, in which 
even the practice of his atrocious profession had not been able to 
eradicate a natural grace of motion and generosity of expression. 
The two piratical Captains looked upon each other for some time 
in silence, while the partisans of each gathered around him. The 
elder part of the crew were the principal adherents of Goffe, while the 
young fellows, among whom Jack Bunce was a principal leader 
and agitator, were in general attached to Cleveland. 

At length Goffe broke silence. — "You are welcome aboard. 
Captain Cleveland. — Smash my taffrail ! I suppose you think 
yourself commodore yet ! but that was over, by G — , when you lost 
your ship, and be d — d ! " 

And here, once for all, we may take notice, that it was the 
gracious custom of this commander to mix his words and oaths in 
nearly equal proportions, which he was wont to call shotting his 
discourse. As we delight not, however, in the discharge of such 

artillery, we shall only indicate by a space like this the places 

in which these expletives occurred ; and thus, if the reader will 
pardon a very poor ,pun, we will reduce Captain Goffe's volley of 
sharp-shot into an explosion of blank cartridges. To his insinua- 
tions that he was come on board to assume the chief command, 
Cleveland replied, that he neither desired, nor would accept, any 
such promotion, but would only ask Captain Goffe for a cast of the 
boat, to put him ashore in one of the other islands, as he had no 
wish either to command Goffe, or to remain in a vessel under his 

" And why not under my orders, brother ? " demanded Goffe, 

very austerely ; " are you too good a man, with 

your cheese-toaster and your jib there, to ser\'e under my 

orders, and be d — d to you, where there are so many gentlemen 
that are elder and better seamen than yourself ? " 

" I wonder which of these capital seamen it was," said Cleve- 
land, coolly, "that laid the ship under the fire of yon six-gun 
battery, that could blow her out of the water, if they had a mind, 
before you could either cut or slip ? Elder and better sailors than 


I may like to serve under such a lubber, but I beg to be excused 
for my own share, Captain — that's all I have got to tell you." 

" By G — , I think you are both mad ! " said Hawkins the boat- 
swain — " a meeting with sword and pistol may be devilish good 
fun in its way, when no better is to be had ; but who the devil that 
had common sense, amongst a set of gentlemen in our condition, 
would fall a quarreUing with each other, to let these duck-winged, 
web-footed islanders have a chance of knocking us all upon the 

" Well said, old Hawkins ! " observed Derrick the quarter- 
master, who was an officer of very considerable importance 
among these rovers ; " I say, if the two captains won't agree to 
live together quietly, and club both heart and head to defend 
the vessel, why, d — n me, depose them both, say I, and choose 
another in their stead ! " 

" Meaning yourself, I suppose. Master Quarter-Master ! " said 
Jack Bunce ; " but that cock won't fight. He that is to command 
gentlemen, should be a gentleman himself, I think ; and I give my 
vote for Captain Cleveland, as spirited and as gentleman-like a man 
as ever dafifed the world aside, and bid it pass ! " 

" What ! you call yourself a gentleman, I warrant ! " retorted 

Derrick ; " why, your eyes ! a tailor would make a better out 

of the werst suit of rags in your strolling wardrobe ! — It is a shame 
for men of spirit to have such a Jack-a-dandy scarecrow on 
board ! " 

Jack Bunce was so incensed at these base comparisons, that 
without more ado, he laid his hand on his sword. The carpenter, 
however, and boatswain, interfered, the former brandishing his 
broad axe, and swearing he would put the skull of the first who 
should strike a blow past clouting, and the latter reminding them, 
that, by their articles, all quarrelling, striking, or more especially 
fighting, on board, was strictly prohibited ; and that, if any gentle- 
man had a quarrel to settle, they were to go ashore, and decide it 
with cutlass and pistol in presence of two of their mes smates. 

" I have no quarrel with any one, ! " said Goffe, sullenly ; 

" Captain Cleveland has wandered about among the islands here, 

amusing himself, ! and we have wasted our time and 

property in waiting for him, when we might have been adding 
twenty or thirty thousand dollars to the stock-purse. However, if 

it pleases the rest of the gentlemen-adventurers, ! why, I 

shall not grumble about it." 

" I propose," said the boatswain, " that there should be a general 
council called in the great cabin, acpording to our articles, that we 
may consider what course we are to hold in this matter." 


A gaieral assent followed the boatswain s proposal ; for every 
one found his own account in these general councils, in which each 
of the rovers had a free vote. By far the greater part of the crew 
only valued this franchise, as it allowed them, upon such solemn 
occasions, an unlimited quantity of liquor — a right which they failed 
not to exercise to the uttermost, by way of aiding their delibera- 
tions. But a few amongst the adventurers, who united some degree 
of judgment with the daring and profligate character of their pro- 
fession, were wont, at such periods, to limit themselves within the 
bounds of comparative sobriety, and by these, under the apparent 
form of a vote of the general council, all things of moment relating 
to the voyage and undertakings of the pirates were in fact deter- 
mined. The rest, of the crew, when they recovered from their in- 
toxication, were easily persuaded that the resolution adopted had 
been the legitimate effort of the combined wisdom of the whole 

Upon the present occasion the debauch had proceeded until the 
greater part pf the crew were, as usual, displaying inebriation in all 
its most brutal and disgraceful shapes — swearing empty and un- 
meaning oaths — venting the most horrid imprecations in the mere 
gaiety of their heart — singing songs, the ribaldry of which was only 
equalled by their profaneness ; and, from the middle of this earthly 
hell, the two captains, together with one or two of their principal 
adherents, as also the carpenter and boatswain, who always took a 
lead on sUch occasions, had drawn together into a pandemonium, or 
privy council of their own, to consider what was to be done ; for, 
as the boatswain metaphorically observed, they were in a narrow 
channel, and behoved to keep sounding the tide-way. 

When they began their consultations, the friends of Goffe re- 
marked, to their great displeasure, that he had not observed the 
wholesome rule to which we have just alluded ; but that, in 
endeavouring to drown his mortification at the sudden appearance 
of Cleveland, and the reception he met with from the crew, the 
elder Captain had not been able to do so without overflowing his 
reason at the same time. His natural sullen taciturnity had pre- 
vented this from being observed until the council began its 
dehberations, when it proved impossible to hide it. 

The first person who spoke was Cleveland, who said, that, so far 
from wishing the command of the vessel, he desired no favour at 
any one's hand, except to land him upon some island or holm at a 
distance from Kirkwall, and leave him to shift for himself. 

The boatswain remonstrated strongly against this resolution. 
" The lads," he said, "all knew Cleveland, and could trust his sea- 
manship, as well as his courage ! besides, he never let the' grog get 


quite uppermost, and was always in proper trim, either to sail the ship, 
or to fight the ship, whereby she was never without some one to 
keep her course when he was on board. — And as for the noble 
Captain GofFe," continued the mediator, "he is as stout a heart as 
ever broke biscuit, and that I will uphold him ; but then, when he 
has his grog aboard — I speak to his face — he is so d — d funny with 
his cranks and his jests, that there is no living with him. You all 
remember how nigh he had run the ship on that cursed Horse of 
Copinsha, as they call it, just by way of frolic ; and then you know 
how he fired off his pistol under the table, when we were at the 
great council, and shot Jack Jenkins in the knee, and cost the poor 
devil his leg, with his pleasantry." * 

" Jack Jenkins was not a chip the worse," said the carpenter ; 
" 1 took the leg off with my saw as well as any loblolly-boy in the 
land could have done — heated my broad axe, and seared the stump 

— ay, by ! and made a jury-leg that he shambles about with as 

well as ever he did — for Jack could never cut a feather." * 

" You are a clever 'fellow, carpenter," replied the boatswain, " a 
d— d clever fellow ! but I had rather you tried your saw and red- 
hot axe upon the ship's knee-timbers than on mine, sink me ! — But 
that here is not the case — The question is, if we shall part with 
Captain Cleveland here, who is a man of thought and action, 
whereby it is my belief it would be heaving the pilot overboard when 
the gale is blowing on a lee-shore. And, I must say, it is not the 
part of a true heart to leave his mates, who have been here waiting 
for him till they have missed stays. Our water is wellnigh out, and 
we have junketed till provisions are low with us. We cannot sail 
without provisions — we cannot get provisionsjvithout the good- will of 
the Kirkwall folks. If we remain here longer, the Halcyon frigate 
will be down upon us — she was seen off Peterhead two days since, — 
and we shall hang up at the yard-arm to be sun-dried. Now, Captain 
Cleveland will get us out of the hobble, if any can. He can play 
the gentleman with these Kirkwall folks, and knows how to deal 
with them on fair terms, and foul, too, if there be occasion for it." 

" And so you would turn honest Captain Goffe a-grazing, would 
ye ? " said an old weatherbeaten pirate, who had but one eye ; 
" what though he has his humours, and made my eye dowse the 
glim in his fancies and frolics, he is as honest a man as ever walked 
a quarter-deck, for all that ; and d— n me but I stand by him so 
long as t'other lantern is lit ! " 

" Why, you would not hear me out," said Hawkins ; " a man 
might as well talk to so many negers !— I tell you, I propose that 
Cleveland shall only be Captain from one, post meridiem^ to five 
a. m., during which time Goffe is always di'unk." 


The Captain of whom he last spoke gave sufficient proof of the 
truth of his words, by uttering an inarticulate growl, and attempting 
to present a pistol at the mediator Hawkins. 

" Why, look ye now !" said Derrick, "there is all the sense he 
has, to get dnink on council-day, like one of these poor silly 
fellows ! " 

" Ay," said Bunce, " drunk as Davy's sow, in the face of the field, 
the fray, and the senate ! " 

" But, nevertheless," continued Derrick, " it will never do to have 
two captains in the same day. I think week about might suit better 
— and let Cleveland take the first turn." 

" There are as good here as any of them," said Hawkins ; " how- 
somdever, I object nothing to Captain Cleveland, and I think he 
may help us into deep water as well as another." 

" Ay," exclaimed Bunce, " and a better figure he will make at 
bringing these Kirkwallers to order than his sober predecessor ! — 
So Captain Cleveland for ever ! " 

" Stop, gentlemen," said Cleveland, who had hitherto been silent ; 
" I hope you will not choose me Captain without my own consent?" 

" Ay, by the blue vault of heaven will we," said Bunce,. " if it be 
pro bono publico ! " 

" But hear me, at least," said Cleveland — " I do consent to take 
command of the vessel, since you wish it, and because I see you 
will ill get out of the scrape without me." 

" Why, then, I say, Cleveland for ever, again ! " shouted Bunce. 

" Be quiet, prithee, dear Bunce ! — honest Altamont ! " said 
Cleveland.- " I undertake the business on this condition ; that, 
when I have got the ship cleared for her voyage, with provisions, 
and so forth, you will be content to restore Captain Goffe to the 
command, as I said before, and put me ashore somewhere, to shift 
for myself — You will then be sura it is impossible J can betray you, 
since I will remain with you to the. last moment." 

" Ay, and after the last moment, too, by the blue vault ! or I mis- 
take the matter," muttered Bunce to himself. , 

The matter was now put to the vote j and so confident were the 
crew in Cleveland's superior address and management, that the 
temporary deposition of Goffe found little resistance even among 
his own partisans, who reasonably enough observed, " he might at 
least have kept sober to look after his own business — E'en let him 
put it to rights again himself next morning, if he will." 

But when the next morning came, the drunken part of the crew, 
being informed of the issue of the deliberations of the council, to 
which they were virtually held to have assented, showed such a 
superior sense of Cleveland's merits, that Goffe, sulky and male- 


content as he was, judged it wisest for the present to suppress his 
feelings of resentment, until a safer opportunity for suffering them 
to explode, and to submit to the degradation which so frequently 
took place among a piratical crew. 

Cleveland, on his part, resolved to take upon him, with spirit and 
without loss of time, the task., of extricating his ship's company 
from their perilous situation. For this purpose, he ordered the 
boat, with the purpose of going ashore in person, carrying with 
him twelve of the stoutest and best men of the crew, all very hand- 
somely appointed, (for the success of their nefarious profession had 
enabled the pirates to assume nearly as gay dresses as their 
officers,) and above all, each man being sufficiently armed with 
cutlass and pistols, and several having pole-axes and poniards. 

Cleveland himself was gallantly attired in a blue coat, lined with 
crimson silk, and laced with gold very richly, crimson , damask 
waistcoat and breeches, a velvet cap, richly embroidered, with a 
white feather, white silk stockings, and red-heeled shoes, which 
were the extremity of finery among the gallants of the day. He 
had a gold chain several times folded round his neck, which sus- 
tained a whistle of the same metal, the ensign of his authority. 
Above all, he wore a decoration peculiar to those daring depre- 
dators, who, besides one, or perhaps two brace of pistols at their 
belt, had usually two additional brace, of the finest mounting and 
workmanship, suspended over their shoulders in a sort of sling or 
scarf of crimson ribbon. The hilt and mounting of the Captain's 
sword corresponded in value to the rest of his appointments, and 
his natural good mien was so well adapted to the whole equipment, 
that, when he appeared on deck, he was received with a general 
shout by the crew, who, as, in other popular societies, judged a 
great deal by the eye. 

Cleveland took with him in the boat, amongst others, his pre- 
decessor in office, Goffe, who was also very richly dressed, but who, 
not having the advantage of such an exterior as Cleveland's, looked 
like a boorish clown in the dress of a courtier, or rather like a 
vulgar-faced footpad decked in the spoils of some one whom he 
has murdered, and whose claim to the property of his garments' is 
rendered doubtful in the eyes of all who look upon him, by the 
mixture of awkwardness, remorse, cruelty, and insolence, which 
clouds his countenance. Cleveland probably chose to take Goife 
ashore with him, to prevent his having any opportunity, during his 
absence, to debauch the crew from their allegiance. In this guise 
they left the ship, and, singing to their oars, while the water foamed 
higher at the chorus, soon reached the quay of Kirkwall. 

The command of the vessel was in the meantime intrusted to 



Bunce, upon whose aUegiance Cleveland knew that he might 
perfectly depend, and, in a private conversation with him of some 
length, he gave him directions how to act in such emergencies as 
might occur. 

These arrangements being made, and Bunce having been re- 
peatedly charged to stand upon his guard alike against the adherents 
of Goffe and any attempt from the shore, the boat put off. As she 
approached the harbour, Cleveland displayed a white flag, and 
could observe that their appearance seemed to occasion a good 
deal of bustle and alarm. People were seen running to and ,fro, 
and some of them appeared to be getting under arms. The battery 
was manned hastily, and the English colours displayed. These 
were alarming symptoms, the rather that Cleveland knew, that, 
though there were no artillerymen in Kirkwall, yet there were many 
sailors perfectly competent to the management of great guns, and 
willing enough to undertake such service in case of need. 

Noting these hostile preparations with a heedful eye, but suffer- 
ing nothing like doubt or anxiety to appear on his countenance, 
Cleveland ran the boat right for the quay, on which several people, 
armed with muskets, rifles, and fowling-pieces, and others with half- 
pikes and whaling-knives, were now assembled, as if to oppose his 
landing. Apparently, however, they had not positively determined 
what measures they were to pursue ; for, when the boat reached 
the quay, those immediately opposite bore back, and suffered 
Cleveland and his party to leap ashore without hinderance. They 
immediately drew up on the quay, except two, who, as their 
Captain had commanded, remained in the boat, which they put off 
to a little distance ; a manoeuvre which, while it placed the boat 
(the only one belonging to the sloop) out of danger of being seized, 
indicated a sort of careless confidence in Cleveland and his party, 
which was calculated to intimidate their opponents. 

The Kirkwallers, however, showed the old Northern blood, put a 
manly face upon the matter, and stood upon the quay, [with their 
arms shouldered, directly opposite to the rovers, and blocking up 
against them the street which leads to the town. 

Cleveland was the first who spoke, as the parties stood thus 
looking upon each other. — " How is this, gentlemen burghers ?" he 
said ; " are you Orkney folks turned Highlandmen, that you are all 
under arms so early this morning; or have you manned the quay 
to give me the honour of a salute, upon taking the command of my 

The burghers looked on each other, and one of them replied to 
Cleveland^' We do not know who you are ; it was that other 
man," pointing to Goffe, " who used to come ashore as Captain." 


"That other gentleman is my mate, and commands in my 
absence," said Cleveland ; — " but what is that to the purpose ? I 
wish to speak with your Lord Mayor, or whatever you call 

"The Provost is sitting in council with the Magistrates," 
answered the spokesman. 

"So much the better," replied Cleveland. —" Where do their 
Worships meet ? " 

" In the Council-house," answered the other. 

" Then make way for us, gentlemen, if you please, for my people 
and I are going there." 

There was a whisper among the townspeople ; but several were 
unresolved upon engaging in a desperate, and perhaps an un- 
necessary conflict, with desperate men ; and the more determined 
citizens formed the hasty reflection that the strangers might be 
more easily mastered in the house, or perhaps in the narrow streets 
which they had to traverse, than when they stood drawn up and 
prepared for battle upon the quay. They suffered them, therefore, 
to proceed unmolested ; and Cleveland, moving very slowly, keep- 
ing his people close together, suffering no one to press upon the 
flanks of his little detachment, and making four men, who con- 
stituted his rear-guard, turn round and face to the rear from time 
to time, rendered it, by his caution, a veiy dangerous task to make 
any attempt upon them. 

In this manner they ascended the narrow street, and reached the 
Council-house, where the Magistrates were actually sitting, as the 
citizen had informed Cleveland. Here the inhabitants' began to 
press forward, with the purpose of mingling with the pirates, and 
availing themselves of the crowd in the narrow entrance, to secure 
as many as they could, without allowing them room for the free use 
of their weapons. But this also had Cleveland foreseen, and, ere 
entering the council-room, he caused the entrance to be cleared 
and secured, commanding four of his men to face down the street, 
and as many to confront the crowd who were thrusting each other 
from above. The burghers recoiled back from the ferocious, 
swarthy, and sunburnt countenances, as well as the levelled arms 
of these desperadoes, and Cleveland, with the rest of his party, 
entered the council-room, where the Magistrates were sitting in 
council, with very little attendance. These gentlemen were thus 
separated effectually from the citizens, who looked to them for 
orders, and were perhaps more completely at the mercy of Cleve- 
land, than he, with his little handful of men, could be said to be at 
that of the multitude by whom they were surrounded. 

The Magistrates seemed sensible of their danger : for they looked 

z 2 


upon each other in some confusion, when Cleveland thus addressed 
them : — 

"Good morrow, gentlemen, — I hope there is no unkindness 
betwixt us. I am come to talk with you about getting supplies 
for my ship yonder in the roadstead — we cannot sail without 

" Your ship, sir ? " said the Provost, who was a man of sense and 
spirit, — " how do we know that you are her Captain ? " 

" Look at me," said Cleveland, " and you will, I think, scarce ask 
the question again." 

The Magistrate looked at him, and accordingly did not think 
proper to pursue that part of the enquiry, but proceeded to say— 
" And if you are her Captain, whence comes she, and where is she 
bound for ? You look too much like a man-of-war's man to be 
master of a trader, and we know that you do not telong to the 
British navy." 

" There are more men-of-war on the sea than sail under the 
British flag," replied Cleveland ; " but say that I were commander 
of a free-trader here, willing to exchange tobacco, brandy, gin, and 
such like, for cured fish and hides, why, I do not think I deserve 
so very bad usage from the merchants of Kirkwall as to deny me 
provisions for my money ? " 

" Look you. Captain," said the Town-clerk, " it is not that we are 
so very strait-laced neither — for, when gentlemen of your cloth come 
this way, it is as weel, as I tauld the Provost, just to do as the 
collier did when he met the devil, — and that is, to have naething to 
say to them, if they have naething to say to us ; — and there is the 
gentleman," pointing to Goffe, " that was Captain before you, and 
may be Captain after you," — (" The cuckold speaks truth in that," 
muttered Goffe,) — " he knows well how handsomely we entertained 
him, till he and his men took upon them to run through the town 
like hellicat devils. — I see one of them there ! — that was the very 
fellow that stopped my servant-wench on the street, as she carried 
the lantern home before me, and insulted her before my face ! " 

" If it please your noble Mayorship's honour and glory," said 
Derrick, the fellow at whom the; Town-clerk pointed, " it was not I 
that brought-to the bit of a tender that carried the lantern in the 
poop — it was quite a different sort of a person." 

" Who was it, then, sir ? " said the Provost. 

"Why, please your majesty's worship," said Derrick, making 
several sea bows, and describing as nearly as he could, the exterior 
of the worthy Magistrate himself, " he was an elderly gentleman, — 
Dutch-built, round in the stern, with a white wig and a red nose — 
very like your majesty, I think;" then, turning to a comrade, he 


added, "Jack, don't you think the fellow that wanted to kiss the 
pretty girl with the lantern t'other night, was very like his 
worship ? " 

" By G — , Tom Derrick," answered the party appealed to, " I 
believe it is the very man ! " 

" This is insolence which we can make you repent of, gentle- 
men ! " said the Magistrate, justly irritated at their effrontery ; 
" you have behaved in this town, as if you were in an Indian village 
at Madagascar. You yourself, Captain, if captain you be, were at 
the head of another riot, no longer since than yesterday. We will 
give you no provisions till we know better whom we are supplying. 
And do not think to bully us ; when I shake this handkerchief out 
at the window, which is at my elbow, your ship goes to the bottom. 
Remember she lies under the guns of our battery." 

" And how many of these guns are honeycombed, Mr. Mayor ? " 
said Cleveland. He put the question by chance ; but instantly 
perceived, from a' sort of confusion which the Provost in vain en^ 
deavoured to hide, that the artillery of Kirkwall was not in the best 
order. " Come, come, Mr. Mayor," he said, " bullying will go 
down With us as little as with you. Your guns yonder will do more 
harm to the poor old sailors who are to work them than to our 
sloop ; and if we bring a broadside to bear on the town, why, your 
wives' crockery will be in some danger. And then to talk to us of 
seamen being a little frolicsome ashore, why, when are they other- 
wise ? You have the Greenland whalers playing the devil among 
you every now and then ; and the very Dutchmen cut capers in the 
streets of Kirkwall, like porpoises before a gale of wind. I am 
told you are a man of sense, and I am sure you and I can settle 
this matter in the course of a five-minutes' palaver." 

" Well, sir," said the Provost, " I will hear what you have to say, 
if you will walk this way." 

Cleveland accordingly followed him into a small interior apart- 
ment, and, when there, addressed the Provost thus : " I will lay 
aside my pistols, sir, if you are afraid of them." 

" D — n your pistols ! " answered the Provost, " I have served the 
King, and fear the smell of powder as httle as you. do ! " 

" So much the better," said Cleveland, " for you will hear me 
the more coolly.— Now, sir, let us be what perhaps you suspect us, or 
let us be any thing else, what, in the name of Heaven, can you get 
by keeping us here, but blows and bloodshed ? For which, believe 
me, we are much better provided than you can pretend to be. The 
point is a plain one — you are desirous to be rid of us— we are 
desirous to be gone. Let us have the means of departure, and we 
leave you instantly." 


" Look ye, Captain," said the Provost, " I thirst for no man's 
blood. You are a pretty fellow, as there were many among the 
buccaniers in my time — but there is no harm in wishing you a better 
trade. You should have the stores and welcome, for your money, 
so you would make these seas clear of you. But then, here lies the 
rub. The Halcyon frigate is expected here in these parts im- 
mediately ; when she hears of you she will be at you ; for there is 
nothing the white lapelle' loves better than a rover— you are seldom 
without a cargo of dollars. Well, he comes down, gets you under 
his stern " 

" Blows us into the air, if you please," said Cleveland. 

" Nay, that must be as you please, Captain," said the Provost ; 
" but then, what is to come of the good town of Kirkwall, that has 
been packing and peeling with the King's enemies ? The burgh 
will be laid under a round fine, and it may be that the Provost may 
not come off so easily." 

" Well, then," said Cleveland, " I see where your pinch lies. 
Now, suppose that I run round this island of yours, and get into 
the roadstead at Stromness ? We could get what we want put on 
board there, without Kirkwall or the Povost seeming to have any 
hand in it ; or, if it should be ever questioned, your want of force, 
and our superior strength, will make a sufficient apology." 

" That may be," said the Provost ; " but if I suffer you to leave 
your present station, and go elsewhere, I must have some security 
that you will not do harm to the country." 

"And we," said Cleveland, "must have some security on our 
side, that you will not detain us, by dribbling out our time till the 
Halcyon is on the coast. Now, I am myself perfectly willing to 
continue on shore as a hostage, on the one side, provided you will 
give me your word not to betray me, and send some magistrate, or 
person of consequence, aboard the sloop, where his safety will be a 
guarantee for mine." 

The Provost shook his head, and intimated it would be difficult 
to find a person willing to place himself as hostage in such a perilous 
condition ; but said he would propose the arrangement to such of 
the council as were fit to be trusted with a matter of such weight. 



" I left my poor plough to go ploughing the deep ! " 


When the Provost and Cleveland had returned into the public 
council-room, the former retired a second time with such of his 
brethren as he thought proper to advise with ; and, while they 
were engaged in discussing Cleveland's proposal, refreshments 
were offered to him and his party. These the Captain permitted 
his people to partake of, but with the greatest precaution against 
surprisal, one party relieving the guard, whilst the others were at 
their food. 

He himself, in the meanwhile, walked up and down the apart- 
ment, and conversed upon indifferent subjects with those present, 
like a person quite at his ease. 

Amongst these individuals he saw, somewhat to his surprise, 
Trijjtolemus Yellowley, who, chancing to be at Kirkwall, had been 
summoned by the Magistrates, as representative, in a certain 
degree, of the Lord Chamberlain, to attend council on this occasion. , 
Cleveland , immediately renewed the acquaintance which he had 
formed with the agriculturist at Burgh- Westra, and asked him his 
present business in Orkney. 

" Just to look after some of my little plans. Captain Cleveland. I 
am weary of fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus yonder, and I 
just cam ower to see how my orchard was thriving, whilk I had 
planted four or five miles from Kirkwall, it may be a year bygane, 
and how the bees were thriving, whereof I had imported nine skeps, 
for the improvement of the country, and for the turning of the 
heather-bloom into wax and honey." 

" And they thrive, I hope ? " said Cleveland, who, however little 
interested in the matter, sustained the conversation, as if to break 
the chilly and embarrassed silence which hung upon the company 

"Thrive!" replied Triptolemus ; "they thrive like everything 
else in this country, and that is the backward way." 

"Want of care, I suppose ?" said Cleveland. 

" The contrary, sir, quite and clean the contrary," replied the 
Factor ; " they died of ower muckle care, like Lucky Christie's 
chickens. — I asked to see the skeps, and cunning and joyful did the 
fallow look who was to have taken care of them—' Had there been 
ony body in charge but mysell,' he said, ' ye might have seen the 


sleeps, or whatever you ca' them ; but there wad hae been as mony 
solan-geese as flees in them, if it hadna been for my four quarters ; 
for I watched them so closely, that I saw them a' creeping out at 
the little holes one sunny morning, and if I had not stopped the 
leak on the instant with a bit clay, the deil a bee, or flee, or what- 
ever they are, would have been left in the skeps, as ye ca' them !' 
—In a word, sir, he had clagged up the hives, as if the puir things 
had had the pestilence, and my bees were as dead as if they had 
been smeaked — and so ends my hope, generandi gloria mellis, as 
Virgilius hath it." 

" There is an end of your mead, then," replied Cleveland ; " but 
what is your chance of cider? — How does the orchard thrive?" 

" O Captain ! this same Solomon of the Orcadian Ophir— I am 
sure no man need to send thither to fetch either talents of gold or 
talents of sense ! — I say, this wise man had watered the young 
apple-trees, in his great tenderness, with hot water, and they are 
perished, root and branch ! But what avails grieving ? — And I 
wish you would tell me, instead, what is all the din that these good 
folks are making about pirates ? and what for all these ill-looking 
men, that are armed like so mony Highlandmen, assembled in the 
judgment-chamber? — for I am just come from the othef side of the 
island, and I have heard nothing distinct about it. —And, now 1 
look at you yoursell. Captain, I think you have mair of these 
foolish pistolets about you than should suffice an honest man in 
quiet times ? " 

" And so I think, too," ssfid the pacific Triton, old Haagen, who 
had been an unwilling- follower of the daring Montrose ; " if you 
had been in the Glen of Edderachyllis, when we were sae sair wor- 
ried by Sir John Worry " 

" You have forgot the whole matter, neighbour Haagen," said the 
Factor ; " Sir John Urry was on your side, and was ta'en with 
Montrose ; by the same token, he lost his head." 

" Did he ?" said the Triton. — " I believe you may be right ; for 
he changed sides mair than anes, and wha kens whilk he died for ? 
— But always he was there, and so was I ; — a fight there was, and I 
never wish to see another ! " 

The entrance of the Provost here interrupted Jheir desultory 
conversation. — "We have determined," he said, "Captain, that 
your ship shall go round to Stromness, or Scalpa-flow, to take in 
stores, in order that there may be no more quarrels between the 
Fair folks and your seamen. And as you wish to stay on shore to 
see the Fair, we intend to send a respectable gentleman on board 
your vessel to pilot her round the Mainland, as the navigation is 
but ticklish." 


" Spoken like a quiet and sensible magistrate, Mr. Mayor," said 
Cleveland, " and no Otherwise than as I expected. — And what 
gentleman is to honour our quarter-deck during my absence ? " 

" We have fixed that, too, Captain Cleveland," said the Provost ; 
" you may be sure we were each more desirous than another to go 
upon so pleasant a voyage, and in such good company ; but being 
Fair time, most of us have some affairs in hand — I myself, in 
respect of my office, cannot be well spared — the eldest Bailie's wife 
is lying-in — the Treasurer does not agree with the sea — two Bailies 
have the gout — the other two are absent from town — and the 
other fifteen members of council are all engaged on particular 

" All that I can tell you, Mr. Mayor," said Cleveland, raising his 
voice, " is, that I expect " 

" A moment's patience, if you please, Captain," said the Provost, 
interrupting him — " So that we have come to the resolution that 
our worthy Mr. Triptolemus Yellowley, who is Factor to the Lord 
Chamberlain of these islands, shall, in respect of his official 
situation, be preferred to the honour and pleasure of accompanying 

"Me!" said the astonished Triptolemus ; "whatthe devil should 
I do going on your voyages ? — my business is on dry land ! " 

" The gentlemen want a pilot," said the Provost, whispering to 
him, "and there is no evitingto give them one." 

" Do they want to go bump on shore, then ? " said the Factor — 
" how the devil should I pilot them, that never touched rudder in 
my life ? " 

"Hush!— hush !^be silent !" said the Proyost; "if the people 
of this town heard ye say such a word, your utility, and respect, and 
rank, and every thing else, is clean gone ! — No man is any thing 
with us island folks, unless he can hand, reef, and steer. — Besides, 
it is but a mere form ; and we will send old Pate Sinclair to help 
you. You will have nothing to do but to eat, drink, and be merry 
all day." 

" Eat and drink I " said the Factor, not able to comprehend 
exactly why this piece of duty was pressed upon him so hastily, 
and yet not very capable' of resisting or extricating himself from 
the toils of the more knowing Provost — "Eat and drink T — that 
is all very well ; but, to speak truth, the sea does not agree with 
me any more than with the Treasurer ; and I have always a 
better appetite for eating and drinking ashore." 

" Hush ! hush ! hush ! " again said the Provost, in an undertone 
of earnest expostulation ; " would you actually ruin your character 
out and out ?— A Factor of the High Chamberlain of the Isles of 


Orkney and Zetland, and not like the sea !— you might as well say 
you are a Highlander, and do not like whisky 1 " 

"You must settle it somehow, gentlemen," said Captain Cleve- 
land ; " it is time we were under weigh. — Mr. Triptolemus Yellow- 
ley, are we to be honoured with your company ? " 

" I am sure. Captain Cleveland," stammered the Factor, " I 
would have no objection to go anywhere with you — only " 

" He has no objection," said the Provost, catching at the first 
limb of the sentence, without awaiting the conclusion. 

" He has no objection," cried the Treasurer. 

" He has no objection," sung out the whole four Bailies together ; 
and the fifteen Councillors, all catching up the same phrase of 
assent, repeated it in chorus, with the additions of — "good man"— 
"public-spirited" — "honourable gentleman" — "burgh eternally 
obliged " — " where will you find such a worthy Factor ? " and so 

Astonished and confused at the praises with which he was over- 
whelmed on all sides, and in no shape understanding the nature of 
the transaction that was going forward, the astounded and over- 
whelmed agriculturist became incapable of resisting the part of the 
Kirkwall Curtius thus insidiously forced upon him, and was 
delivered up by Captain Cleveland to his party, with the strictest 
injunctions to treat him with honour and attention. Goffe and his 
companions began now to lead him off, amid the applauses of the 
whole meeting, after the manner in which the victim of ancient days 
was garlanded and greeted by shouts, when consigned to the priests, 
for the purpose of being led to the altar, and knocked on the head, 
a sacrifice for the commonweal. It waS while they thus conducted, 
and in a manner forced him out of the Council-chamber, that poor 
Triptolemus, much alarmed at finding that Cleveland, in whom he 
had some confidence, was to remain behind the party, tried, when 
just going out at the door, the effect of one remonstrating bellow. — 
"Nay, iDut, Provost !— Captain I — Bailies! — Treasurer! — Coun- 
cillors I — if Captain Cleveland does not go aboard to protect me it 
is naei bargain, and go I will not, unless' I am trailed with cart- 
ropes ! " 

His protest was, however, drowned in the unanimous chorus of 
the Magistrates and Councillors, returning him thanks for his 
public spirit — wishing him a good voyage— and praying to Heaven 
for his happy and speedy return. Stunned and overwhelmed, and 
thinking, if he had any distinct thoughts at all, that remonstrance 
was vain, where friends and strangers seemed alike determined to 
carry the point against him, Triptolemus, without farther resistance' 
suffered himself to be conducted into the street, where the pirate's 


boat's-crew, assembling around him, began to move slowly towards 
the quay, many of the townsfolk following out of curiosity, but 
without any attempt at interference or annoyance ; for the specific 
compromise which the dexterity of the first Magistrate had achieved, 
was unanimously approved of as a much better settlement of the 
disputes betwixt them and the strangers, than might have been 
attained by the dubious issue of an appeal to arms. 

Meanwhile, as they went slowly along, Triptolemus had time to 
study the appearance, countenance, and dress, of those into whose 
hands he had been thus delivered, and began to imagine that he 
read in their looks, not only the general expression of a desperate 
character, but some sinister intentions directed particularly towards 
himself. He was alarmed by the truculent looks of Goffe, in par- 
ticular, who, holding his arm with a gripe which resembled in 
delicacy of touch the compression of a smith's vice, cast on him 
from the outer corner of his eye oblique glances, like those which 
the eagle throws upon the prey which she has clutched, ere yet she 
proceeds, as it is technically called, to plume it. At length Yel- 
lowleys fears got so far the better of his prudence, that he fairly 
asked his terrible conductor, in a sort cif crying whisper, " Are you 
going to murder me. Captain, in the face of the laws baith of God 
and man .'' " 

" Hold your peace, if you are wise," said Goffe, who had his own 
reasons for desiring to increase the panic of his captive ; " we have 
not murdered a man these three months, and why should you put 
us in mind of it ? " 

" You are but joking, I hope, good worthy Captain ! " replied 
Triptolemus. "This is worse than witches, dwarfs, dirking of 
whales, and cowping of cobles, put all together ! — this is an away- 
ganging crop, with a vengeance ! — What good, in Heaven's name, 
would murdering me do to you ? " 

" We might have some pleasure in it, at least," said Goffe. — 
" Look these fellows in the face, and see if you see one among 
them that would not rather kill a man than let it alone ?— But we 
will speak more of that when you have first had a taste of the 
bilboes— unless, indeed, you come down with a handsome round 
handful of Chilli boards * for your ransom." 

" As I shall Uve by bread, Captain," answered the Factor, " that 
misbegotten dwarf has carried off the whole hornful of silver ! " 

"A cat-and-nine-tails will make you find it again," said 
Goffe, grufHy ; " flogging and pickling is an excellent receipt to 
bring a man's wealth into his mind— twisting a bowstring round 
his skull till the eyes start a httle, is a very good remembrancer 


" Captain," replied Yellowley stoutly, " I have no money— seldom 
can improvers have. We turn pasture to tillage, and barley into 
aits, and heather into greensward, and the poor yarpha, as the be- 
nighted creatures here call their peat-bogs, into baittle grass-land ; 
but we seldom make anything of it that comes back to our ain 
pouch. The carles and the cart-avers make it all, and the carles 
and the cart-avers eat it all, and the deil clink doun with it ! " 

" Well, well," said Goiife, " if you be really a poor fellow, as you 
pretend, I'll stand your friend ; " then, inchning his head so as to 
reach the ear of the Factor, who stood on tiptoe with anxiety, he 
said, " If you love your life, do not enter the boat with us." 

" But how am I to get away from you, while you hold me so fast 
by the arm, that I could not get off if the whole year's crop of 
Scotland depended on it ?" 

" Hark ye, you gudgeon," said Goife, "just when you come to 
the water's edge, and when the fellows are jumping in and taking 
their oars, slue yourself round suddenly to the larboard — I will let go 
your arm — and then cut and run for your life ! " 

Triptolemus did as he was desired, Goffe's willing hand relaxed 
the grasp as he had promised, the agriculturist trundled off like a 
football that has just received a strong impulse from the foot of one 
of the players, and, with celerity which surprised himself as well as 
all beholders, fled through the town of Kirkwall. Nay, such was 
the impetus of his retreat, that, as if the grasp of the pirate, was still 
' open to pounce upon him, he never stopped till he had traversed 
the whole town, and attained the open country on the other side. 
They who had seen him that day — his hat and wig lost in the sudden 
effort he had made to bolt forward, his cravat awry, and his waist- 
coat unbuttoned, — and who had an opportunity of comparing his 
round spherical form and short legs with the portentous speed at 
which he scoured through the street, migjit well say, that if Fury 
ministers arms, Fear confers wings. His very mode of running 
seemed to be that peculiar to his fleecy care, for, like a ram in the 
midst of his race, he ever and anon encouraged himself by a great 
bouncing attempt at a leap, though there were no obtacles in his 

There was no pursuit after the agriculturist ; and though a 
musket or two were presented, for the purpose of sending a leaden 
messenger after him, yet Goffe, turning peace-maker for once in his 
life, so exaggerated the dangers that would attend a breach of the 
truce with the people of Kirkwall, that he prevailed upon the boat's 
crew to forbear any active hostilities, and to pull off for their vessel 
with all dispatch. 

The burghers, who regarded the escape of Triptolemus as a 


triumph on their side, gave the boat three cheers by way of an in- 
sulting farewell ; while the Magistrates, on the other hand, entei-- 
tained great anxiety respecting the probable consequences of this 
breach of articles between them and the pirates ; and, could they 
have seized upon the fugitive very privately, instead of compliment- 
ing him with a civic feast in honour of the agility which he dis- 
played, it is likely they might have delivered the runaway hostage 
once more into the hands of his foemen. But it was impossible to 
set their face publicly to such an act of violence, and therefore they 
contented themselves with closely watching Cleveland, whom they 
determined to make responsible for any aggression which might be 
attempted by the pirates. Cleveland, on his part, easily conjectured 
that the motive which Goffe had for suffering the hostage to escape, 
was to leave him answerable for all consequences, and, relying 
more on the attachment and intelligence of his friend and adherent, 
Frederick Altamont, alias Jack Bunco, than on anything else, ex- 
pected the result with considerable anxiety, since the Magistrates, 
though they continued to treat him with civility, plainly intimated 
they would regulate his treatment by the behaviour of the crew, 
though he no longer commanded them. 

It was not, however, without some reason that he reckoned on 
the devoted fidelity of Bunce ; for no sooner did that trusty 
adherent receive from Goffe, and the boat's crew, the news of the 
escape of Triptolemus, than he immediately concluded it had been 
favoured by the late Captain, in order that, Cleveland being either put 
to death or consigned to hopeless imprisonment, Goffe might be 
called upon to resume the command of the vessel. , 

" But the drunken old boatswain shall miss his mark,'' said Bunce 
to his confederate Fletcher ; " or else I am contented to quit the 
name of Altamont, and be called Jack Bunce, or Jack Dunce, if you 
like it better, to the end of the chaptef ." 

Availing himself accordingly of a sort of nautical eloquence, 
which his enemies termed slack-jaw, Bunce set before the crew, in 
a most animated manner, the disgrace which they all sustained, by 
their Captain remaining, as he was pleased to term it, in the bilboes, 
without any hostage to answer for his safety ; and succeeded so far, 
that, besides exciting a good deal of discontent against Goffe, he 
brought the crew to the resolution of seizing the first vessel of a 
tolerable appearance, and declaring that the ship, crew, and cargo, 
should be dealt with according to the usage which Cleveland should 
receive on shore. It was judged at the same time proper to try the 
faith of the Orcadians, by removing from the roadstead of Kirkwall, 
and going round to that of Stromness, where, according to the treaty 
betwixt Provost Torfe and Captain Cleveland, they were to victual 


their sloop. They resolved, in the meantime, to intrust the com- 
mand of the vessel to a council, consisting of Goffe, the Boatswain; 
and Bunce himself, until Cleveland should be in a situation to 
resume his command. 

These resolutions having been proposed and acceded to, they 
weighed anchor, and got their sloop under sail, without experiencing 
any opposition or annoyance from the battery, which relieved them 
of one important apprehension incidental to their situation. 


Clap on more sail, pursue, up with your fights, 
Give fire — she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all ! 


A VERY handsome brig, which, with several other vessels, was the 
property of Magnus Troil, the great Zetland Udaller, had received 
on board that Magnate himself, his two lovely daughters, and the 
facetious Claud Halcro, who, for friendship's sake chiefly, and the 
love of beauty proper to his poetical calling, attended them on their 
journey from Zetland to the capital of Orkney, to which Noma had 
referred them, as the place where her mystical oracles should at 
length receive a satisfactory explanation. 

They passed, at a distance, the tremendous cliffs of the lonely 
spot of earth called the Fair Isle, which, at an equal distance from 
either archipelago, lies in the sea which divides Orkney from Zet- 
land ; and at length, after some baffling winds, made the Start of 
Sanda. Off the headland so named, they became involved in a 
strong current, well known, by those who frequent these seas, as 
the Roost of the Start, which carried them considerably out of their 
course, and, joined to an adverse wind, forced them to keep on the 
east side of the island of Stronsa. and, finally compelled them to lie 
by for the night in Papa Sound, since the navigation in dark or 
thick weather, amongst so many low islands, is neither pleasant nor 

On the ensuing morning they resumed their voyage under more 
favourable auspices ; and, coasting along the island of Stronsa, 
whose flat, verdant, and comparatively fertile shores, formed a 
strong contrast to the dun hills and dark cliffs of their own islands, 
they doubled the cape called the Lamb-head, and stood away for 


They had scarce opened the beautiful bay betwixt Pomona and 
Shapinsha, and the sisters were admiring the massive church of 
Saint Magnus, as it was first seen to rise from amongst the inferior 
buildings of Kirkwall, when the eyes of Magnus, and of Claud 
Halcro, were attracted by an object which they thought more in- 
teresting. This was an armed sloop, with her sails set, which had 
just left the anchorage in the bay, and was running before the wind 
by which the brig of the Udaller was beating in. 

" A tight thing that, by my ancestors' bones ! " said the old 
Udaller ; "but I cannot make out of what country, as she shows no 
colours. Spanish built, I should think her." 

" Ay, ay," said Claud Halcro, " she has all the look of it. She runs 
before the wind that we must battle with, which is the wonted way 
of the world. As glorious John says, — 

' With roomy deck, and guns of mighty strength. 
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves, 

Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length, 
She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.' " 

Brenda could not help telling Halcro, when he had spouted this 
stanza with great enthusiasm, "that though the description was 
more like a first-rate than a sloop, yet the simile of the sea-wasp 
served but indifferently for either." 

" A sea-wasp ? " said Magnus, looking with some surprise, as the 
sloop, shifting her course, suddenly bore down on them : " Egad, I 
wish she may not show us presently that she has a sting ! " 

What the Udaller said in jest, was fulfilled in earnest ; for, with- 
out hoisting colours, or hailing, two shots were discharged from tbe 
sloop, one of which ran dipping and dancing upon the water, just 
ahead of the Zetlander's bows, while the other went through his 

Magnus caught up a speaking-trumpet, and hailed the sloop, to 
demand what she was, and what was the meaning of this unpro- 
voked aggression. He was only answered by the stern command, 
— " Down top-sails instantly, and lay your main-sail to the mast — 
you shall see who we are presently." 

There was no means within the reach of possibility by which 
obedience could be evaded, where it would instantly have been en- 
forced by a broadside ; and, with much fear on the part of the 
sisters and Claud Halcro, mixed with anger and astonishment on 
that of the Udaller, the brig lay-to to await the commands of the 

The sloop immediately lowered a boat, with six armed hands. 


commanded by Jack Bunce, which rowed directly for their prize. 
As they approached her, Claud Halcro whispered to the UdaUer, — 
" If what we hear of buccaniers be true, these men with their silk 
scarfs and vests, have the very cut of them." 

" My daughters ! my daughters ! " muttered Magnus to himself, 
with such an agony as only a father could feel, — " Go down below, 
and hide yourselves, girls, while I " 

He threw down his speaking-trumpet, and seized on a handspike, 
while his daughters, more afraid of the consequences of his fiery 
temper to himself than of anything else, hung round him, and 
begged him to make no resistance. Claud Halcro united his en- 
treaties, adding, " It were best pacify the fellows with fair words. 
They might," he said, " be Dunkirkers, or insolent man-of-war's- 
men on a frolic." 

" No, no," answered Magnus, " it is the sloop which the Jagger 
told us of But I will take your advice — I will have patience for 
these girls' sakes ; yet " 

He had no time to conclude the sentence, for Bunce jumped on 
board with his party, and drawing his cutlass, struck it upon the 
companion-ladder, and declared the ship was theirs. 

" By what warrant or authority do you stop us on the high seas ? " 
said Magnus. 

" Here are half a dozen of warrants," said Bunce, showing the 
pistols which were hung round him, according to a pirate-fashion 
already mentioned, " choose which you like, old gentleman, and 
you shall have the perusal of it presently." 

" That is to say, you intend to rob us ? " said Magnus. — " So be it 
— ^we have no means to help it — only be civil to the women, and 
take what you please from the vessel. There is not much, but I 
will and can make it worth more, if you use us well." 

" Civil to the women ! " said Fletcher, who had also come on 
board with the gang — " when were we else than civil to them ? ay, 
and kind to boot ? — Look here, Jack Bunce ! — What a trim-going 
little thing here is ! — By G — , she shall make a cruize with us, come 
of old Squaretoes what will ! " 

He seized upon the terrified Brenda with one hand, and insolently 
pulled back with the other the hood of the mantle in which she had 
muffled herself 

" Help, father !— help, Minna ! " exclaimed the affrighted girl ; 
unconscious, at the moment, that they were unable to render her 

Magnus again uplifted the handspike, but Bunce stopped his 
hand. — " Avast, father ! " he said, " or you will make a bad voyage 
of it presently— And you, Fletcher, let go the girl !" 


" And, d — n me ! why should I let her go ? " said Fletcher. 

"Because I command you, Dick," said the other, "and be- 
cause I'll make it a quarrel else. — And now let me know, beauties, 
is there one of you bears that queer heathen name of Minna for 
which I have a certain sort of regard .■■ " 

"Gallant sir .'"said Halcro, " unquestionably it is because you 
have some poetry in your heart." 

"I have had enough of it in my mouth in my time," answered 
Bunce ; " but that day is by, old gentleman — however, I shall soon 
find out which of these girls is Minna. — Throw back your mufflings 
from your faces, and don't be afraid, my Lindamaras ; no one 
here shall. meddle with you to do you wrong. On my soul, two 
pretty wenches ! — I wish I were at sea in an egg-shell, and a rock 
under my lee-bow, if I would wish a better leaguer-lass than the 
worst of them ! — Hark you, my girls ; which of you would like to 
swing in a rover's hammock ? — you should have gold for the 
gathering ! " 

The terrified maidens clung close together, and grew pale at the 
bold and famihar language of the desperate libertine. 

" Nay, don't be frightened," said he ; " no one shall serve under 
the noble Altamont but by her own free choice — there is no -press- 
ing amongst gentlemen of fortune. And do not look so shy 
upon me neither, as if I spoke of what you never thought of 
before. One of you, at least, has heard of Captain Cleveland, the 

Brenda grew still paler, but the blood mounted at once in Minna's 
cheeks, on hearing the name of her lover thus unexpectedly in- 
troduced ; for the scene was in itself so confounding, that the idea 
of the vessel's being the consort of which Cleveland had spoken at 
Burgh- Westra, had occurred to no one save the Udaller. 

" I see how it is," said Bunce, with a familiar nod, " and I will 
hold my course accordingly. — You need not be afraid of any injury, 
father," he added, addressing Magnus familiarly; "and though I 
have made many a pretty girl pay tribute in my time, yet yours 
shall go ashore without either wrong or ransom." 

" If you will assure me of that," said Magnus, " you are as welcome 
to the brig and cargo, as ever I made man welcome to a can of 

" And it is no bad thing that same can of punch," said Bunce, 
" if we had any one here that could mix it well." 

"I will do it," said Claud Halcro, "with any man that ever 
squeezed lemon— Eric Scambester, the punch-maker of Burgh- 
Westra, being alone excepted." 

" And you are within a grapnel's length of him, too," said the 

A A 


Udaller.— " Go down below, my girls," he added, " and send up the 
rare old man, and the punch-bowl." 

"The punch-bowl!" said Fletcher; "I say, the bucket, d— n 
me !— Talk of bowls in the cabin of a paltry merchantman, but not 
to gentlemen-strollers— rovers, I would say," correcting himself, as 
he observed that Bunce looked sour at the mistake. 

" And I say these two pretty girls shall stay on deck, and fill my 
can," said Bunce ; " I deserve some attendance, at least, for all my 

" And they shall fill mine, too," said Fletcher—" they shall fill it 
to the brim !— and I will have a kiss for every drop they spill— broil 
me if I won't ! " 

" Why, then, I tell you, you shan't ! " said Bunce ; " for I'll be 
d-d if any one shall kiss Minna but one, and that's neither you 
nor I ; and her other little bit of a consort shall 'scape for 
company ; — there are plenty of willing wenches in Orkney. — And 
so, now I think on it, these girls shall go down below, and bolt 
themselves into the cabin ; and we shall have the punch up here on 
deck, alfresco, as the old gentleman proposes." 

" Why, Jack, I wish you knew your own mind," said Fletcher ; 
" I have been your messmate these two years, and I love you ; and 
yet flay me like a wild bullock, if you have not as many humours as 
a monkey ! — And what shall we have to make a little fun of, since 
you have sent the girls down below ? " 

" Why, we will have Master Punch-maker here," answered 
Bunce, " to give us toasts, and sing us songs.— And, in the meantime, 
you there, stand by sheets and tacks, and get her under way ! — and 
you, steersman, as you would keep your brains in your skull, keep 
her under the stern of the sloop. — If you attempt to play us any 
trick, I will scuttle your sconce as if it were an old calabash ! " 

The vessel was accordingly got under way, and moved slowly on 
in the wake of the sloop, which, as had been previously agreed 
upon, held her course, not to return to the bay of Kirkwall, but for 
an excellent roadstead called Inganess Bay, formed by a pro- 
montory which extends to the eastward ' two or three miles from 
the Orcadian metropolis, and where the vessels might conveniently 
lie at anchor, while the rovers maintained any communication with 
the Magistrates which the new state of things seemed to require. 

Meantime Claud Halcro had exerted his utmost talents in com- 
pounding a bucketful of punch for the use of the pirates, which they 
drank out of large cans ; the ordinary seamen, as well as Bunce 
and Fletcher, who acted as officers, dipping them into the bucket 
with very little ceremony, as they came and went upon their duty. 
Magnus, who was particularly apprehensive that hquor might awaken 


the brutal passions of these desperadoes, was yet So much astonished 
at the quantities which he saw them drink, without producing any 
visible effect upon their reason, that he could not help expressing 
his surprise to Bunce himself, who, wild as he was, yet appeared by 
far the most civil and conversable of his party, and whom he was, 
perhaps, desirous to conciliate, by a compliment of which all boon 
topers know the value. 

" Bones of Saint Magnus ! " said the Udaller, " I used to think I 
took off my can like a gentleman ; but to see your men swallow. 
Captain, one would think their stomachs were as bottomless as the 
hole of Laifell in Foula, which I have sounded myself with a line of 
an hundred fathoms. By my soul, the Bicker of Saint Magnus 
were but a sip to them ! " 

" In our way of life, sir," answered Bunce, " there is no stint till 
duty calls, or the puncheon is drunk out." 

" By my word, sir," said Claud Halcro, " I believe there is not 
one of your people 43ut could drink out the mickle bicker of Scarpa, 
which was always offered to the Bishop of Orkney brimful of the 
best bummock that ever was brewed." * 

" If drinking could make them bishops," said Bunce, " I should 
have a reverend crew of them ; but as they harve no other clerical 
qualities about them, I do not propose that they shall get drunk to- 
day ; so we will cut our drink with a song." 

" And I'll sing it, by ! " said or swore Dick Fletcher, and 

instantly struck ud the old ditty — 

" It was a ship, and a ship of fame, 
Launch'd off the stocks, bound for the main. 
With an hundred and fifty brisk young men. 
All pick'd and chosen every one." 

" I would sooner be keel-hauled than hear that song over again," 
said Bunce ; " and confound your lantern iaws, you can squeeze 
nothing else out of them ! " 

" By , " said Fletcher, " I will sing my song, whether you like 

it or no ; " and again he sung, with the doleful tone of a north- 
easter whistling through sheet and shrouds, — 

" Captain Glen was our Captain's name ; 
A very gallant and brisk young man ; 
As bold a sailor as e'er went to sea, 
And we were bound for High Barbary." 

" I tell you again," said Bunce, " we will have none of your 

A A 2 

356 THE PiRATE. 

screech-owl music here ; and I'll be d— d if you shall sit here and 
make that infernal noise ! " 

" Why, then, I'll teU you what," said Fletcher, getting up, " I'll 
sing when I walk about, and I hope there is no harm in that, Jack 
Bunce." And so, getting up from his seat, he began to walk up 
and down the sloop, croaking out his long and disastrous ballad. 

" You see how I manage them," said Bunce, with a smile of self- 
applause—" allow that fellow two strides on his own way, and you 
make a mutineer of him for Me. But I tie him strict up, and he 
follows me as kindly as a fowler's spaniel after he has got a good 
beating. — ^And now your toast and your song, sir," addressing 
Halcro ; " or rather your song without your toast. I have got a 
toast for myself. Here is success to all roving blades, and confusion 
to all honest men ! " 

" I should be sorry to drink that toast, if I could help it," Said 
Magnus Troil. 

" What ! you reckon yourself one of the nonest folks, I warrant ? " 
said Bunce. — " Tell me your trade, and I'll tell you what I think of 
it. As for the punch-maker here, I knew him at first glance to be 
a tailor, who has, therefore, no more pretensions to be honest, than 
he has not to be mangy. But you are some High-Dutch skipper, I 
warrant me, that tramples on the cross when he is in Japan, and 
denies his religion for a day's gain." 

" No," replied the Udaller, " I am a gentleman of Zetland." 

" O, what ! " retorted the satirical Mr. Bunce, " you are come 
from the happy climate where gin is a groat a-bottle, and whfre 
there is daylight for ever ? " 

" At your service. Captain," said the Udaller, suppressing with 
much pain some disposition to resent these jests on his country, 
although under every risk, and at all disadvantage. 

" At my service ! " said Bunce — " Ay, if there was a rope stretched 
from the wreck to the beach, you would be be at my service to cut 
the hawser, rasksfloatsome z.-aAjetsome of ship and cargo, and well 
if you did not give me a rap on the head with the back of the cutty- 
axe ; and you call yourself honest ? But never mind — here goes the 
aforesaid toast — and do you sing me a song, Mr. Fashioner ; and 
look it be as good as your punch." 

Halcro, internally praying for the powers of a new Timptheus, to 
turn his strain and check his auditor's pride, as glorious John had 
it, began a heart-soothing ditty with the following lines : — 

" Maidens fresh as fairest rose, 
Listen to this lay of mine." 

" I will hear nothmg of maidens or roses," said Bunce J "it puts 


me in mind what sort of a cargo we have got onboard ; and, by , 

I will be true to my messmate and my captain as long as I can ! — 
And now I think on't, I'll have no more punch either — that last cup 
made innovation, and I am not to play Cassio to-night — and if I 
drink not, nobody else shall." 

So saying, he manfully kicked over the bucket, which, notwith- 
standing the repeated applications made to it, was still half full, got 
up from his seat, shook himself a little to rights, as he expressed it, 
cocked his hat, and, walking the quarter-deck with an air of dignity, 
gave, by word and signal, the orders for bringing the ships to 
anchor, which were readily obeyed by both, Goffe being then, in all 
probability, past any rational state of interference. 

The Udaller, in the meantime, condoled with Halcro on their 
situation, " It is bad enough," said the tough old Norseman ; 
"for these are rank rogues — and yet, were it not for the girls, I 
should not fear them. That young vapouring fellow, who seems to 
command, is not such a born devil as he might have been," 

" He has queer humours, though," said Halcro ; " and I wish we 
were loose from him. To kick down a bucket half full of the best 
punch ever was made, and to cut me short in the sweetest song I 
ever wrote, — I promise you, I do not know what he may do next — 
it is next door to madness," 

Meanwhile, the ships being brought to anchor, the valiant Lieu- 
tenant Bunce called upon Fletcher, and, resuming his seat by his 
unwilling passengers, he told them they should see what message 
he was about to send to the wittols of Kirkwall, as they were some- 
thing concerned in it, " It shall run in Dick's name," he said, " as 
well as in mine. I love to give the poor young fellow a little 
countenance now and then — don't I, Dick, you d — d stupid ass ? " 

" Why, yes. Jack Bunce," said Dick, " I can't say but as you do — 
only you are always buUocking one about something or other, too, — 
but, howsomdever, d'ye see " 

" Enough said — belay your jaw, Dick," said Bunce, and pro- 
ceeded to write his epistle, which, being read aloud, proved to be of 
the following tenor : " For the Mayor and Aldermen of Kirkwall— 
Gentlemen, As, contrary to your good faith given, you have not sent 
u^ on board a hostage for the safety of our Captain, remaining on 
shore at your request, these come to tell you, we are not thus to be 
trifled withj We have already in our possession, a brig, with a 
family of distinction, its owners and passengers; and as you deal 
with our Captain, so will we deal with them in every respect. And 
as this is the first, so assure yourselves it shall not be the last 
damage which we will do to your town and trade, if you do not send 
on board our Captain, and supply us with stores accrding to treaty. 


" Given on board the brig Mergoose of Burgh-Westra, lying in 
Inganess Bay. Witness our hands, commanders of the Fortune's 
Favourite, and gentlemen adventurers." 

He then subscribed himself Frederick Altamont, and handed the 
letter to Fletcher, who read the said subscription with much 
difficulty ; and, admiring the sound of it very much, swore he would 
have a new name himself, and the rather that Fletcher was the 
most crabbed word to spell and conster, he believed, in the whole 
dictionary. He subscribed himself accordingly, Timothy Tug- 

" Will you not add a few lines to the coxcombs ? " said Bunce, 
addressing Magnus. 

" Not I," returned the Udaller, stubborn in his ideas of right and 
wrong, even in so formidable an emergency. " The Magistrates 

of Kirkwall know their duty, and were I they '' But here the 

recollection that his daughters were at the mercy of these ruffians, 
blanked the bold visage of Magnus Troil, and checked the defiance 
which was just about to issue from his lips. 

" D — n me," said Bunce, who easily conjectured what was passing 
in the mind of his prisoner — " that pause would have told well on 
the stage — it would have brought down pit, box, and gallery, egad, 
as Bayes has it." 

" I will hear nothing of Bayes," said Claud Halcro, (himself a 
little elevated,) " it is an impudent satire on glorious John ; but he 
tickled Buckingham off for it — 

' In the first rank of these did Zimri stand ; 
A man so various ' " 

" Hold your peace ! " said Bunce, drowning the voice of the 
admirer of Dryden in louder and more vehement asseveration, 
" the Rehearsal is the best farce ever was written — and I'll make 
him kiss the gunner's daughter that denies it. D — n me, I was the 
best Prince Prettyman ever walked the boards — 

' Sometimes a fisher's son, sometimes a prince.' 

But let us to business. — Hark ye, old gentleman," (to Magnusj 
" you have a sort of sulkiness about you, for which some of my 
profession would cut your ears out of your head, and broil them for 
your dinner with red pepper. I have known Goffe do so to a poor 
devil, for looking sour and dangerous when he saw his sloop go to 
Davy Jones's locker with his only son on board. Bu^ I'm a spirit 



of another sort ; and if you or the ladies are ill-used, it shall be the 
Kirkwall people's fault, and not mine, and that's fair ; and so you 
had better let them know your condition, and your circumstances, 
and so forth, — and that's fair, too." 

Magnus, thus exhorted, took up the pen, and attempted to write ; 
but his high spirit so struggled with his paternal anxiety, that his 
hand refused its office. " I cannot help it," he said, after one or 
two illegible attempts to write — " I cannot form a letter, if all our 
lives depended upon it." 

And he could not, with his utmost efforts, so suppress the con- 
vulsive emotions which he experienced, but that they agitated his 
whole frame. The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes 
better than the oak which resists it ; and so, in great calamities, it 
sometimes happens, that light and frivolous spirits recover their 
elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier 
character. In the present case, Claud Halcro was fortunately able 
to perform the task which the deeper feelings of his friend and 
patron refused. He took the pen, and, in as few words as possible, 
explained the situation in which they were placed, and the cruel 
risks to which they were exposed, insinuating at the same time, as 
delicately as he could express it, that, to the magistrates of the 
country, the life and honour of its citizens should be a dearer object 
than even the apprehension or punishment of the guilty ; taking 
care, however, to qualify the last expression as much as possible, 
for fear of giving umbrage to the pirates. 

Bunce read over the letter, which fortunately met his approbation ; 
and, on seeing the name of Claud Halcro at th6 bottom, he 
exclaimed, in great surprise, and with more energetic expressions 
of asseveration than we choose to record—" Why, you are the little 
fellow that played the fiddle to old Manager Gadabout's company, 
at Hogs Norton, the first season I came out there ! I thought I 
knew your catchword of glorious John." 

At another time this recognition might not have been very grate- 
ful to Halcro's minstrel pride ; but, as matters stood with him, the 
discovery of a golden mine could not have made him more happy. 
He instantly remembered the very hopeful young performer who 
came out in Don Sebastian, and judiciously added, that the muse 
of glorious John had never received such excellent support during 
the time that he was first (he might have added, and only) violin to 
Mr. Gadabout's company. 

" Why, yes," said Bunce, " I believe you are right — I think I 
might have shaken the scene as well as Booth or Betterton either. 
But I was destined to figure on other boards," (striking his foot 
upon the deck,) " and I believe I must stick by them, till I find no 


board at all to support me. But now, old acquaintance, I will do 
something for you — slue yourself this way a bit — I would have you 
solus." They leaned over the taffrail, while Bunce whispered with 
more seriousness than he usually showed, "I am sorry for this 
honest old heart of Norway pine — blight me if I am not— and for 
the daughters too— besides, I have my own reasons for befriending 
one of them. I can be a wild fellow with a wilhng lass of the game ; 
but to such decent and innocent creatures — d — n me, I am Scipio 
at Numantia, and Alexander in the tent of Darius. You remember 
how i touch off Alexander ? " (here he started into heroics.) 

'" Thus from the grave I rise to save my love ; 

All draw your swords, with wings of lightning move. 
When I rush on, sure none will dare to stay — 
'Tis beauty calls, and glory shows the way.' " 

Claud Halcro failed not to bestow the necessary commendations 
on his declamation, declaring, that, in his opinion as an honest man, 
he had always thought Mr. Altamont's giving that speech far 
superior in tone and energy to Betterton. 

Bunce, or Altamont, wrung his hand tenderly. " Ah, you flatter 
me, my dear friend," he said ; " yet, why had not the public some 
of your judgment ! — I should not then have been at this pass. 
Heaven knows, my dear Mr. Halcro — Heaven knows with what 
pleasure I could keep you on board with me, just that I might have 
one friend who loves as much to hear, as I do to recite, the choicest 
pieces of our finest dramatic authors. The most of us are beasts — 
and, for the Kirkwall hostage yonder, he uses me, egad, as I use 
Fletcher, I think, and huffs me the more, the more I do for him. 
But how delightful it would be in a tropic night, when the ship was 
hanging on the breeze, with a broad and steady sail, for me to 
rehearse Alexander, with you for my pit, box, and gallery ! Nay, 
(for you are a follower of the muses, as I remember,) who knows 
but you and I might be the means of inspiring, like Orpheus and 
Eurydice, a pure taste into our companions, and softening their 
manners, while we excited their better feehngs ? " 

This was spoken with so much unction, that Claud Halcro began 
to be afraid he had both made the actual punch over potent, and 
mixed too many bewitching ingredients in the cup of flattery which 
he had administered ; and that, under the influence of both potions, 
the sentimental pirate might detain him by force, merely to realize 
the scenes which his imagination presented. The conjecture was, 
however, too delicate to admit of any active effort, on Halcro's part, 
to redeem his blunder, and therefore he only returned the tender 


pressure of his friend's hand, and uttered the interjection " alas ! " 
'in as pathetic a tone as he could. 

Bunce immediately resumed : " You are right, my friend, these 
are but vain visions of felicity, and it remains but for the unhappy 
Altamont to serve the friend to whom he is now to bid farewell. 1 
have determined to put you and the two girls ashore, with Fletcher 
for your protection ; and so call up the young women, and let them 
begone before the devil get aboard of me, or of some one else. You 
will carry my letter to the magistrates, and second it with your own 
eloquence, and assure them, that if they hurt but one hair of 
Cleveland's head, there will be the devil to pay, and no pitch hot." 

Relieved at heart by this unexpected termination of Bunce's 
harangue, Halcro descended the companion ladder two steps at a 
time, and knocking at the cabin door, could scarce find intelligible 
language enough to say his errand. The sisters hearing, with 
unexp"ected joy, that they were to be set ashore, muffled themselves 
in their cloaks, and, when they learned that the boat was hoisted 
out, came hastily on deck, where they were apprized, for the first 
time, to their great horror, that their father was still to remain on 
board of the pirate. 

" We will remain with him at every risk,'' said Minna — " we may 
be of some assistance to him, were it but for an instant — we will 
live and die with him ! " 

" We shall aid him more surely," said Brenda, who comprehended 
the nature of their situation better than Minna, " by interesting the 
people of Kirkwall to grant these gentlemen's demands." 

" Spoken like an angel of sense and beauty," said Bunce ; " and 
now away with you ; for, d — n me, if this is not like having a lighted 
linstock in the powder-room — if you speak another word more, 
confound me if I know how I shall bring myself to part with you ! " 

" Go, in God's name, my daughters," said Magnus. " I am in 
God's hand ; and when you are gone I shall care little for myself — 
and I shall think and say, as long as I live, that this good gentle- 
man deserves a better trade. — Go — go — away with you ! " — for they 
yet lingered in reluctance to leave him. 

" Stay not to kiss," said Bunce, " for fear I be tempted to ask my 
share. Into the boat with you — yet stop an instant." He drew the 
three captives apart — " Fletcher," said he, "will answer for the rest 
of the fellows, and will see you safe off the sea-beach. But how to 
answer for Fletcher, I know not, except by trusting Mr. Halcro with 
this little guarantee." 

He offered the minstrel a small double-barrelled pistol, which, he 
said, was loaded with a brace of balls. Minna observed Halcro's 
hand tremble as he stretched it out to take the. weapon. " Give it 

362 • THE PIRATE. 

to me, sir," she said, taking it from the outlaw ; " and trust to me 
for defending my sister and myself." 

" Bravo, bravo ! " shouted Bunce. " There spoke a wench worthy 
of Cleveland, the King of Rovers ! " 

" Cleveland ! " repeated Minna, " do you then know that Cleve- 
land, whom you have twice named ? " 

" Know him ! Is there a man alive," said Bunce, "that knows 
better than I do the best and stoutest fellow ever stepped betwixt 
stem and stern ? When he is out of the bilboes, as please Heaven 
he shall soon be, I reckon to see you come on board of us, and 
reign the queen of every sea we sail over. — You have got the little 
guardian; I suppose you know how to use it ? If Fletcher behaves 
ill to you, you need only draw up this piece of iron with your thumb, 
so — and if he persists, it is but crooking your pretty forefinger thus, 
and I shall lose the most dutiful messmate that ever man had — 
though, d — n the dog, he will deserve his death if he disobeys my 
orders. And now, into the boat — but stay, one kiss for Cleveland's 

Brenda, in deadly terror, endured his courtesy, but Minna, 
stepping back with disdain, offered her hand. Bunce laughed, but 
kissed, with a theatrical air, the fair hand which she extended as a 
ransom for her lips, and at length the sisters and Halcro were placed 
in the boat, which rowed off under Fletcher's command. 

Bunce stood on the quarter-deck, soliloquizing after the manner 
of his original profession. " Were this told at Port-Royal now, or 
at the isle of Providence, or in the Petits Guaves, I wonder what 
they would say of me ! Why, that I was a good-natured milksop — 
a Jack-a-lent — an ass. — Well, let them. I have done enough of 
bad to think about it ; it is worth while doing one good action, if it 
were but for the rarity of the thing, and to put one in good humour 
with oneself." Then turning to Magnus Troil, he proceeded — 

" By these are bonarobas, these daughters of yours ! The 

eldest would make her fortune on the London boards. What a 
dashing attitude the wench had with her, as she seized the pistol! — 
d — n me, that touch would have brought the house down ! What 
a Roxalana the jade would have made ! " (for, in his oratory, Bunce, 
like Sancho's gossip, Thomas Cecial, was apt to use the most 
energetic word which came to hand, without accurately considering 
its propriety.) " I would give my share of the next prize but to 
hear her spout — 

' Away, begone, and give a whirlwind room, 
Or I will blow you up like dust. — Avaunt I 
Madness but meanly represents my rage.' 


And then, again, that little, soft, shy, tearful trembler, for Statira, 
to hear her recite— 

' He speaks the kindest words, and looks such things, 
Vows with such passion, swears with so much grace, 
That 'tis a kind of heaven to be deluded by him.' 

What a play we might have run up ! — I was a beast not to think 
of it before I sent them off— I to be Alexander — Claud Halcro, 
Lysimachus — this old gentleman might have made a Clytus, for a, 
pinch. I was an idiot not to think of it ! " 

There was much in this effusion which might have displeased the 
Udaller ; but, to speak truth, he paid no attention to it. His eye, 
and, finally, his spy-glass, were employed in watching the return of 
his daughters to the shore. He saw them land on the beach, 
and, accompanied by Halcro, and another man, (Fletcher, doubt- 
less,) he saw them ascend the acclivity, and proceed upon the road 
to Kirkwall ; and he could even distinguish that Minna, as if 
considering herself as the guardian of the party, walked a little 
aloof from the rest, on the watch, as it seemed, against surprise, 
and ready to act as occasion should require. At length, as the 
Udaller was just about to lose sight of them, he had the exquisite 
satisfaction to see the party halt, and the pirate leave them, after a 
space just long enough for a civil farewell, and proceed slowly back, 
on his return to the beach. Blessing the Great Being who had 
thus relieved him from the most agonizing fears which a father can 
feel, the worthy Udaller, from that instant, stood resigned to his 
own fate, whatever that might be. 


Over the mountains and under the waves. 
Over the fountains and under the graves, 
Over floods that are deepest, 

Which Neptune obey, 
Over rocks that are steepest, 
Love will find out the way. 

Old Song. 

The parting of Fletcher from Claud Halcro and the sisters of 
Burgh- Westra, on the spot where it took place, was partly occasioned 


by a small party of armed men being seen at a distance in the act 
of advancing from Kirkwall, an apparition hidden from the Udaller's 
spy-glass by the swdl of the ground, but quite visible to the pirate, 
whom it determined to consult his own safety by a speedy return 
to his boat. He was just turning away, when Minna occasioned 
the short delay which her father had observed. 

" Stop," she said ; " I command you ! — Tell yourleader from me, 
that whatever the answer may be from Kirkwall, he shall carry his 
vessel, nevertheless, round to Stromness ; and, being anchored 
there, let him send a boat ashore for Captain Cleveland when he 
shall see a smoke on the Bridge of Broisgar." 

Fletcher had thought, like his messmate Bunce, of asking a kiss, 
at least, for the trouble of escorting these beautiful young women ; 
and perhapSj neither that terror of the approaching Kirkwall men, nor 
of Minna s weapon, might have prevented his being insolent. But 
the name of his Captain, and, still more, the unappalled, dignified, 
and commanding manner of Minna Troil, overawed him. He made 
a sea bow,— promised to keep a sharp lookout, and, returning to 
his boat, went on board with his message. 

As Halcro and the sisters advanced towards the party whom they 
saw on the Kirkwall road, and who, on their part, had halted as if 
to observe them, Brenda, relieved from the fears of Fletcher's pre- 
sence, which had hitherto kept her silent, exclaimed, " Merciful 
Heaven ! — Minna, in what hands have we left our dear father? " 

" In the hands of brave men," said Minna, steadily—" I fear not 
for him." 

' As brave as you please," said Claud Halcro, " but very danger- 
ous rogues for all that.— I know that fellow Altamont, as he calls 
himself, though that is not his right name neither, as deboshed a 
dog as ever made a barn ring with blood and blank verse. He 
began -with Barnwell, and everybody thought he would end with 
the gallows, like the last scene in Venice Preserved." 

" It matters not," said Minna—" the wilder the waves, the more 
powerful is the voice that rules them. The name alone of Cleveland 
ruled the mood of the fiercest amongst then)." 

" I am sorry for Cleveland," said Brenda, " if such are his com- 
panions,— but I care httle for him in comparison to my father." 

" Reserve your compassion for those who need it," said Minna, 
" and fear nothing for our father.— God knows, every silver hair 
on his head is to me worth the treasure of an unsunned mine ; but 
I know that he is safe while in yonder vessel, and I know that he 
will be soon safe on shore." 

" I would I could see it," said Claud Halcro ; " but I fear the 
Kirkwall people, supposing Cleveland to be such as I dread, will 


not dare to exchange him against the Udaller. The Scots have 
very severe laws against theft-boot, as they call it." 

" But who are those on the road before us ? " said Brenda ; " and 
why do they halt there so jealously? " 

"They are a patrol of the militia," answered Halcro. " Glorious 
John touches them off a little sharply, — but then John was a 
Jacobite, — 

' Mouths without hands, maintain'd at vast expense. 
In peace a charge, in war a weak defence ; 
Stout once a-month, they march, a blustering band, 
And ever, but in time of need, at hand.' 

I fancy they halted just now, taking us, as they saw us on the brow 
of the hill, for a party of the sloop's men, and now they can distin- 
guish that you wear petticoats, they are moving on again." 

They came on accordingly, and proved to be, as Claud Halcro 
had suggested, a patrol sent out to watch the motions of the pirates, 
and to prevent their attempting descents to damage the country. 

They heartily congratulated Claud Halcro, who was well known 
to more than one of them, upon his escape from captivity ; and the 
commander of the party, while offering every assistance to the 
ladies, could not help condoling with them on the circumstances in 
which their father stood, hinting, though in a delicate and doubtful 
manner, the difficulties which might be .in the way of his liberation. 

When they arrived at Kirkwall, and obtained an audience of the 
Provost, and one or two of the Magistrates, these difficulties were 
more plainly insisted upon. — " The Halcyon frigate is upon the 
coast," said the Provost ; " she was seen off" Duncansbay-head ; 
and, though I have the deepest respect for Mr. Troil of Burgh- 
Westra, yet I shall be answerable to law if I release from prison the 
Captain of this suspicious vessel, on account of the safety of any 
individual who may be unhappily endangered by his detention. 
This man is now known to be the heart and soul of these buccaniers, 
and am I at liberty to send him aboard, that he may plunder the 
country, or perhaps go fight the King's ship ? — for he has impudence 
enough for any thing." 

" Courage enough for any thing, you mean, Mr. Provost," said 
Minna, unable to restrain her displeasure. 

"Why, you may call it as you please. Miss Troil," said the 
worthy Magistrate ; " but, in my opinion, that sort of courage which 
proposes to fight singly against two, is little better than a kind of 
practical impudence." 

" But our father ? " said Brenda, in a tone of the most earnest 


entreaty — "our father— the friend, I may say the father, of his 
country— to whom so many looked for kindness, and so many for 
actual support — whose loss would be the extinclion of a beacon in 
a storm — will you indeed weigh the risk which he runs, against such 
a trifling thing as letting an unfortunate man from prison, to seek 
his unhappy fate elsewhere ? " 

" Miss Brenda is right," said Claud Halcro ; " I am for let-a-be 
for let-a-be, as the boys say ; and never fash about a warrant of 
liberation, Provost, but just take a fool's counsel, and let the good- 
man of the jail forget to draw his bolt on the wicket, or leave a chink 
of a window open, or the like, and we shall be rid of the rover, and 
have the one best honest fellow in Orkney or Zetland on the lee- 
side of a bowl of punch with us in five hours." 

The Provost repUed in nearly the same terms as before, that he 
had the highest respect for Mr. Magnus Troil of Burgh-Westra, but 
that he could not suffer his consideration for any individual, how- 
ever respectable, to interfere with the discharge of his duty. 

Minna then addressed her sister in a tone of calm and sarcastic 
displeasure. — " You forget," she said, " Brenda, that you are talking 
of the safety of a poor insignificant Udaller of Zetland, to no less a 
person than the Chief Magistrate of the metropolis of Orkney — can 
you expect so great a person to condescend to such a trifling subject 
of consideration ? It will be time enough for the Provost to think 
of complying with the terms sent to him — for comply with them at 
length he both must and will — when the Church of Saint Magnus 
is beat down about his ears." 

" You may be angry with me, my pretty young lady," said the 
good-humoured Provost Torfe, " but I cannot be offended with you. 
The Church of Saint Magnus has stood many a day, and, I think, 
will outlive both you and me, much more yonder pack of unhanged 
dogs. And besides that, your father is half an Orkneyman, and 
has both estate and friends among us, 1 would, I give you my word, 
do as much for a Zetlander in distress as I would for any one, 
excepting one of our own native Kirkwallers, who are doubtless to 
be preferred. And if you will take up your lodgings here with my 
wife and myself, we will endeavour to show you," continued he, 
" that you are as welcome in Kirkwall, as ever you could be in 
Lerwick or Scalloway." 

Minna deigned no reply to this good-humoured invitation, but 
Brenda declined it in civil terms, pleading the necessity of taking 
up their abode with a wealthy widow of Kirkwall, a relation, who 
already expected them. 

Halcro made another attempt to move the Provost, but found 
him inexorable.— " The Collector of the Customs had alreadv 


threatened;" he said, " to inform against him for entering into treaty, 
or, as he called it, packing and peeling with those strangers, even 
when it seemed the only means of preventing a bloody affray in the 
town ; and, should he now forego the advantage afforded by the 
imprisonment of Cleveland and the escape of the Factor, he might 
incur something worse than censure." The burden of the whole 
was, " that he was sorry for the Udaller, he was sorry even for the 
lad Cleveland, who had some sparks of honour about him ; but his 
duty was imperious, and must be obeyed." The Provost then 
precluded farther argument, by observing, that another affair from 
Zetland called for his immediate attention. A gentleman named 
Mertoun, residing at Jarlshof, had made complaint against Snails- 
foot the jagger, for having assisted a domestic of his in embezzling 
some valuable articles which had been deposited in his custody, 
and he was about to take examinations on the subject, and cause 
them to be restored to Mr. Mertoun, who was accountable for them 
to the right owner. 

In all this information, there was nothing which seemed interest- 
ing to the sisters excepting the word Mertoun, which went like a 
dagger to the heart of Minna, when she recollected the circum- 
stances under which Mordaunt Mertoun had disappeared, and 
which, with an emotion less painful, though still of a melancholy 
nature, called a faint blush into Brenda's cheek, and a slight degree 
of moisture into her eye. But it was soon evident that the Magis- 
trate spoke not of Mordaunt, but of his father ; and the daughters 
of Magnus, little interested in his detail, took leave of the Provost 
to go to their own lodgings. 

When they arrived at their relation's, Minna made it her business 
to learn, by such enquiries as she could make without exciting sus- 
picion, what was the situation of the unfortunate Cleveland, which 
she soon discovered to be exceedingly precarious. The Provost 
had not, indeed, committed him to close custody, as Claud Halcro 
had anticipated, recollecting, perhaps, the favourable circumstances 
under which he had surrendered himself, and loath, till the moment 
of the last necessity, altogether to break faith with him. But 
although left apparently at large, he was strictly watched by persons 
well armed and appointed for the purpose, who had directions to 
detain him by force, if he attempted to pass certain narrow precincts 
which were allotted to him. He was quartered in a strong room 
within what is called the King's Castle, and at night his chamber 
door was locked on the outside, and a sufficient guard mounted to 
prevent his escape. He therefore enjoyed only the degree of liberty 
which the cat, in her cruel sport, is sometimes pleased to permit to 
the mouse which she has clutched ; and yet, such was the terror of 


the resources, the courage, and ferocity of the pirate Captain, that 
the Provost was blamed by the Collector, and many other sage 
citizens of Kirkwall, for permitting him to be at large upon any 

It may be well helieved, that, under such circumstances, Cleveland 
had no desire to seek any place of public resort, conscious that he 
was the object of a mixed feeling of cui'iosity and terror. His 
favourite place of exercise, therefore, was the external aisles of the 
Cathedral of Saint Magnus, of which the eastern end alone is fitted 
up for public worship. This solemn old edifice, having escaped the 
ravage which attended the first convulsions of the Reformation, still 
retains some appearance of episcopal dignity. This place of worship 
is separated by a screen from the nave and western limb of the 
cross, and the whole is preserved in a state of cleanliness and 
decency, which might be weU proposed as an example to the proud 
piles of Westminster and St. Paul's. 

It was in this exterior part of the Cathedral that Clevelana was 
permitted to walk, the rather that his guards, by watching the single 
open entrance, had the means, with very little inconvenience to 
themselves, of preventing any possible attempt at escape. The 
place itself was well suited to his melancholy circumstances. The 
lofty and vaulted roof rises upon ranges of Saxon pillars, of massive 
size, four of which, still larger than the rest, once supported the 
lofty spire, which, long since destroyed by accident, has been rebuilt 
upon a disproportioned and truncated plan. The light is admitted 
at the eastern end through a lofty, well-proportioned, and richly- 
ornamented Gothic window ; and the pavement is covered with 
inscriptions, in different languages, distinguishing the graves of 
noble Orcadians, who have at different times been deposited within 
the sacred precincts. 

Here walked Cleveland, musing over the events of a misspent 
life, which, it seemed probable, might be brought to a violent and 
shameful close, while he was yet in the prime of youth.—" With 
these dead," he said, looking on the pavement, " shall I soon be 
numbered— but no holy man will speak' a blessing ; no friendly 
hand register an inscription ; no proud descendant sculpture 
armorial bearings over the grave of the pirate Cleveland. My 
whitening bones will swing in the gibbet-irons, on some wild beach 
or lonely cape, that will be esteemed fatal arid accursed for my sake. 
The old mariner, as he passes the Sound, will shake his head, and 
tell of my name and actions, as a warning to his younger comrades. 
—But, Minna ! Minna !— what will be thy thoughts when the news 
reaches thee ?— Would to God the tidings were drowned in the 
deepest whirlpool betwixt Kirkwall and Burgh-Westra, ere they 



1^ i, 



came to her ear ! — and ! would to Heaven that we had never 
met, since we never can meet again ! " 

He Ufted up his eyes as he spoke, and Minna Troil stood "before 
him. Her face was pale, and her hair dishevelled ; but her look 
was composed and firm, with its usual expression of high-minded 
melancholy. She was still shrouded in the large mantle which she 
had assumed on leaving the vessel. Cleveland's first emotion was 
astonishment ; his next was joy, not unmixed with awe. He would 
have exclaimed — he would have thrown himself at her feet — but 
she imposed at once silence and composure on him, by raising her 
finger, and saying, in a low but commanding accent — " Be cautious 
—we are observed — there are men without — they let me enter with 
difficulty. I dare not remain long — they would think — they might 
believe — O, Cleveland ! I have hazarded every thing to save you !" 

"To save me? — Alas ! poor Minna!" answered Cleveland, "to 
save me is impossible. — Enough that I have seen you once more, 
were it but to say, for ever farewell ! " 

" We must indeed say farewell," said Minna ; " for fate, and your 
guih, have divided us for ever. — Cleveland, I have seen your 
associates — need I tell you more — need I say, that I know now what 
a pirate is ? " 

" You have been in the ruffians' power ! " said Cleveland, with a 
start of agony — " Did they presume " 

"Cleveland," replied Minna, "they presumed nothing — your 
name was a spell over them. By the power of that spell over these 
ferocious banditti, and by that alone, I was reminded of the qualities 
I once thought my Cleveland's ! " 

" Yes," said Cleveland, proudly, " my name has and shall have 
power over them, when they are at the wildest ; and, had they 
harmed you by one rude word, they should have found — Yet what 
do I rave about — I am a prisoner ! " 

" You shall be so no longer," said Minna — " Your safety — the 
safety of my dear father — all demand your instant freedom. I have 
formed a scheme for your liberty, which, boldly executed, cannot 
fail. The light is fading without — muffle yourself in my cloak, and 
you will easily pass the guards — I have given them the means of 
carousing, and they are deeply engaged. Haste to the Loch of 
Stennis, and hide yourself till day dawns ; then make a smoke on 
the point, where the land, stretching into the lake on each side, 
divides it nearly in two at the Bridge of Broisgar. Your vessel, 
which Ues not far distant, will send a boat ashore. — Do not hesitate 
an instant ! " 

" But you, Minna ! — Should this wild scheme succeed," said 
Cleveland, " what is to become of you ? '' 

B B 

370 ' THE PIRATE. 

" for my share in your escape," answered the maiden, " the 
honesty of my own intention will vindicate me in the sight of 
Heaven ; and the safety of my father, whose fate depends on yours, 
will be my excuse to man." 

In a few words, she gave him thehistory of their capture, and its 
consequences. Cleveland Cast up his eyes and raised his hands to 
Heaven, in thankfulness for the escape of the sisters from his evil 
companions, and then hastily added, — " But you aire right, M,inna ; 
I must fly at all rates — ^for your father's sake I must fly. — Here, 
then, we part — yet not, I trust, for ever." 

" For ever !" answered a voice, that sounded as from a sepulchral 

They started, looked around them, and then gazed on each other. 
It seemed as if the echoes of the building had returned Cleveland's 
last words, but the pronunciation was too emphatically accented. 

" Yes, for ever ! " said Noma of the Fitful-head, stepping forward 
from behind one of the massive Saxon pillars which support the 
roof of the Cathedral. " Here meet the crimson foot and the crim- 
son hand. Well for both that the wound is healed whence that 
crimson was derived — well for both, but best forliim who shed it. — 
Here, then, you meet — and meet for the last time ! " 

" Not so," said Cleveland, as if about to take Minna's hand ; " to 
separate me from Minna, while I have life, must be the work of 
herself alone." 

" Away ! " said Noma, stepping betwixt them, — " away with 
such idle folly ! — Nourish no vain dreams of future meetings — you 
part here, and you part for ever. The hawk pairs not with the 
dove ; guilt matches not with innocence. — Minna Troil, you look 
for the last time on this bold and criminal man — Cleveland, you 
behold Minna for the last time ! " 

" And dream you," said Cleveland, indignantly, " that your mum- 
mery imposes on me, and that I am among the fools who see more 
than trick in your pretended art ? " 

" Forbear, Cleveland, forbear ! " said Minna, her hereditary awe 
of Noma augmented by the circumstance of her sudden appear- 
ance. O ! forbear ! — she is powerful — she is but too powerful. — 
And do you, O Noma, remember my father's safety is linlced with 

" And it is well for Cleveland that I do remember it," replied the 
Pythoness— "and that, for the sake of one, I am here to aid both. 
You, with your childish purpose, of passing one of his bulk and 
stature under the disguise of a few paltry folds of wadmaal— what 
would your device have procured him but instant restraint with 
bolt and shackle ?— I will save him— I will place him in security on 


board his bark. But let him renounce these shores for ever, and 
carry elsewhere the terrors of his sable flag, and his yet blacker 
name ; for if the sun rises twice, and finds him still at anchor, his 
blood be on his own head. — Ay, look to each other — look the last 
look that I permit to frail affection, — and say, if ye can say it. 
Farewell for ever." 

" Obey her," stammered Minna ; " remonstrate not, but obey 

Cleveland, grasping her hand, and kissing it ardently, said, but 
so low that she only could hear it, " Farewell, Minna, iDut not for 

"And now, maiden, begone," said Noma, " and leave the rest to 
the Reimkennar." 

" One word more," said Minna, " and I obey you. Tell me but 
if I have caught aright your meaning— Is Mordaunt Mertoun safe 
and recovered ? " 

" Recovered, and safe," said Noma ; " else woe to the hand that 
shed his blood ! " 

Minna slowly sought the door of the Cathedral, and turned back 
from time to time to look at the shadowy form of Noma, and the 
stately and military figure of Cleveland, as they stood together in 
the deepening gloom of the ancient Cathedral. When she looked 
back a second time they were in motion, and Cleveland followed 
the matron, as, with a slow and solemn step, she glided towards 
one of the side aisles. When Minna looked back a third time, their 
figures were no longer visible. She collected herself, and walked 
on to the eastern door by which she had entered, and listened 
for an instant to the guard, who talked together on the outside. 

" The Zetland girl stays a long time with this pirate fellow," said 
one. " I wish they have not more to sneak about than the ransom 
of her father." 

" Ay, truly," answered another, " the wenches will have more 
sympathy with a handsome young pirate, than an old bed-ridden 

Their discourse was here interrupted by her of whom they were 
speaking ; and, as if taken in the manner, they pulled off their hats, 
made their awkward obeisances, and looked not a little embarrassed 
and confused. 

Minna returned to the house where she lodged, much affected, 
yet, on the whole, pleased, with the result of her expedition, which 
seemed to put her father out of danger, and assured her at once of 
the escape of Clevelaad, and of the safety of young Mordaunt. She 
hastened to communicate both pieces of intelligence to Brenda, 
who joined her jn thankfulness to Heaven, and was herself well- 

B B 2 



nigh persuaded to believe in Noma's supernatural pretensions, so 
much was she pleased with the manner in which they had Tseen 
employed. Some time was spent in exchanging their mutual con- 
gratulations, and minghng tears of hope, mixed with apprehension ; 
when, at a late hour in the evening, they were interrupted by Claud 
Halcro, who, full of a fidgetting sort of importance, not unmingled 
with fear, came to acquaint them, that the prisoner, Cleveland, "had 
disappeared from the Cathedral, in which he had been permitted to 
walk, and that the Provost, having been informed that Minna was 
accessary to his flight, was coming, in a mighty quandary, to make 
enquiry into the circumstances. 

When the worthy Magistrate arrived, Minna did not conceal 
from him her own wish that Cleveland should make his escape, as 
the only means which she saw of redeeming her father from immi- 
nent danger. But that she had any actual accession to his flight, 
she positively denied ; and stated, " that she parted from Cleveland 
in the Cathedral, more than two hours since, and then left him in 
company with a third person, whose name she did not conceive 
herself obliged to communicate." 

" It is not needful, Miss Minna Troil," answered Provost Torfe ; 
" for, although no person but this Captain Cleveland and yourself 
was seen to enter the Kirk of St. Magnus this day, we know well 
enough that your cousin, old Ulla Troil, whom you Zetlanders call 
Noma of Fitful-head, has been cruising up and down, upon sea 
and land, and air, for what I know, in boats and on ponies, and it 
may be on broomsticks ; and here has been her dumb Drow, too, 
coming and going, and playing the spy on every one — and a 
good spy he is, for he can hear everything, and tells nothing again, 
unless to his mistress. And we know, besides, that she can enter 
the Kirk when all the doors are fast, and has been seen there more 
than once, God save us from the Evil One ! — and so, without 
farther questions asked, I conclude it was old Noma whom you 
left in the Kirk with this slashing blade — and if so, they may 
catch them again that can. — I cannot but say, however, pretty 
Mistress Minna, that you Zetland folks seem to forget both law 
and gospel, when you use the help of witchcraft to fetch delin- 
quents out of a legal prison ; and the least that you, or your cousin, 
or your father, can do, is to use influence with this wild fellow to 
go away as soon as possible, without hurting the town or trade, 
and then there will be little harm in what has chanced ; for. Heaven 
knows, I did not seek the poor lad's life, so I could get my hands 
free of him without blame ; and far less did I wish, that, through 
his imprisonment, any harm should come to worthy Magnus Troil 
of Burgh- Westra. 


" I see where the shoe pinches you, Mr. Provost," said Claud 
Halcro, " and I am sure I can answer for my friend Mr. Troil, as 
well as for myself, that we will say and do all in our power with 
this man, Captain Cleveland, to make him leave the coast 

" And I,"said Minna, " am so convinced that what you recommend 
is best for all parties, that my sister and I will set off early to-morrow 
morning to the House of Stennis, if Mr. Halcro will give us his 
escort, to receive my father when he comes ashore, that we may 
acquaint him with your wish, and to use every influence to induce 
this unhappy man to leave the country." 

Provost Torfe looked upon her with some surprise. " It is not 
every young woman," he said, " would wish to move eight miles 
nearer to a band of pirates." 

" We run no risk," said Claud Halcro, interfering. " The House 
of Stennis is strong ; and my cousin, whom it belongs to, has men 
and arms within It. The young ladies are as safe there as in Kirk- 
wall ; and much good may arise from an early communication 
betvcen Magnus Troil and his daughters. And happy am I to 
see ';at in your case, my good old friend^— as glorious John says, — 

-' After much debate, 

The man prevails above the magistrate.' " 

The Provost smiled, nodded his head, and indicated, as far as 
he thought he could do so with decency, howliappy he should be 
if the Fortune's Favourite, and her disorderly crew, would leave 
Orkney without further interference, or violence on either side. 
He could not authorize their being supplied from the shore, he 
said ; but, either for fear or favour, they wars certain to get provi- 
sions at Stromness. This pacific magistrate then took leave of 
Halcro and the two ladies, who proposed the next morning, to 
transfer their residence to the House of Stennis, situated upon the 
banks of the salt-water lake of the same name, and about four 
miles by water from the Road of Stromness. where the Rover's 
vessel was lying. 



Fly, Fleance, fly !— Thou mayst escape. 


It was one branch of the various arts by which Noma endea- 
voured to maintain her pretensions to supernatural powers, that 
she made herself famiUarly and practically acquainted with all the 
secret passes and recesses, whether natural or artificial, which she 
could hear of, whether by tradition or otherwise, and was, by such 
knowledge, often enabled to perform feats which were otherwise 
unaccountable. Thus, when she escaped from the tabernacle at 
Burgh-Westra, it was by a sliding board which covered a secret' 
passage in the wall, known to none but herself and Magnus, who, 
she was well assured, would not betray her. The profusion, also, 
with which she lavished a considerable income, otherwise of no 
use to her, enabled her to procure the earliest intelligence respect- 
ing whatever she desired to know, and, at the same time, to secure 
all other assistance necessary to carry her plans into effect. 
Cleveland, upon the present occasion, had reason to admire both 
her sagacity and her resources. 

Upon her applying a little forcible pressure, a door which was 
concealed under some rich wooden sculpture in the screen which 
divides the eastern aisle from the rest of the Cathedral, opened, 
and disclosed a dark narrow winding passage, into which she 
entered, telling Cleveland, in a whisper, to follow, and be sure he 
shut the door behind him. He obeyed, and followed her in dark- 
ness and silence, sometimes descending steps, of the number of 
which she always apprized him, sometimes ascending, and often 
turning at short angles. The air v^s more free than he could 
have expected, the passage being ventilated at different parts by 
unseen and ingeniously contrived spiracles, which communicated 
with the open air. At length their long course ended, by Noma 
drawing aside a sliding panel, which, opening behind a wooden, 
or box-bed,' as it is called in Scotland, admitted them into an 
ancient, but very mean apartment, having a latticed window, and 
a groined roof. The furniture was- much dilapidated; and its 
only ornaments were, on the one side of the wall, a garland of 
faded ribbons, such as are used to decorate whale-vessels ; and, 
on the other, an escutcheon, bearing an Earl's arms and coronet, 
surrounded with the usual emblems of mortality. The mattock 
and spade, which lay in one corner, together with the appearancp 


of an old man, who, in a rusty black coat, and slouched hat, sat 
reading by a table, announced that they were in the habitation of 
the church-beadle, or sexton, and in the presence of that respect- 
able functionary. 

When his attention was attracted by the noise of the sliding 
panel, he arose, and, testifying much respect, but no surprise, 
took his shadowy hat from his thin grey locks, and stood 
uncovered in the presence of Noma with an air of profound 

" Be faithful," said Noma to the old man, " and beware you show 
not any living mortal the secret path to the Sanctuary." 

The old man bowed, in token of obedience and of thanks, for 
she put money in his hand as she spoke. With a faltering 
voice, he expressed his hope that she would remember his son, 
who was on the Greenland voyage, that he might return fortu- 
nate and safe, as he had done last year, when he brought back 
the garland, pointing to that upon the wall. 

" My cauldron shall boil, and my rhyme shall be said, in his 
behalf," answered Noma. " Waits Pacolet without with the 
horses ? " 

Tlie old Sexton assented, and the Pythoness, commanding 
Cleveland to follow her, went through a back door of the apart- 
ment into a small garden, corresponding in its desolate appear- 
ance, to the habitation they had just quitted. The low and 
broken wall easily permitted them to pass into another and 
larger garden, though not much better kept, and a gate, which 
was upon the latch, let them into a long and winding lane, through 
which. Noma having whispered to her companion that it was the 
only dangerous place on their road, they walked with a hasty pace. 
It was now nearly dark, and the inhabitants of the poor dwellings, 
on either hand, had betaken themselves to their houses. They saw 
only one woman, who was looking from her door, but blessed 
herself, and rgtired into her house with precipitation, when she saw 
the tall figure of Noma stalk past her with long strides. The lane 
conducted them into the country, where the dumb dwarf waited with 
three horses, ensconced behind the wall of a deserted shed. On one 
of these Noma instantly seated herself, Cleveland mounted another, 
and, followed by Pacolet on the third, they moved sharply on through 
the darkness ; the active and spirited animals on which they rode 
being of a breed rather taller than those reared in Zetland. 

After more than an hour's smart riding, in which Noma acted 
'as guide, they stopped before a hovel, so utterly desolate in appear- 
ance, that it resembled rather a cattle-shed than, a cottage. 

" Here you must remain till dawn, when your signal can be seen 


from your vessel," said Noma, consigning the horses to the care 
of Pacolet, and leading the way into the wretched hovel, which 
she presently illuminated by lighting the small iron lamp which 
she usually carried along with her. "It is a poor," she,said, 
" but a safe place of refuge ; for were we pursued hithef, the 
earth would yawn and admit us into its recesses ere yqa were 
taken. For know, that this ground is sacred to the Gods of old 
Valhalla. — And now say, man of mischief and of blood, are you 
friend or foe to Noma, the sole priestess of these disowned deities ? " 

" How is it possible for me to be your enemy ?" said Cleveland. 
— " Common gratitude " 

" Common gratitude," said Noma, interrupting him, " is a com- 
mon word — and words are the common pay which fools accept at 
the hands of knaves ; but Noma must be requited by actions — by 

" Well, mother, name your request." 

" That you never seek to see Minna Troil again, and that you 
leave this coast in twenty-four hours," answered Noma. 

' It is impossible," said the outlaw ; " I cannot be soon tnough 
found in the sea-stores which the sloop must have." 

" You can. I will take care you are fully supplied ; and Caith- 
ness and the Hebrides are not far distant — "ou can depart if you 

" And why should I," said Cleveland, " if I will not ? " \ 

" Because your stay endangers others," said Noma, " and wil\ 
prove your own destruction. Hear me with attention. From the, 
first moment I saw you lying senseless on the sands beneath the\ 
cliffs of Sumburgh, I read that in your countenance which linked 
you with me, and those who were dear to me ; but whether for 
good or evil, was hidden from mine eyes. I aided in saving your life, 
in preserving your property. I aided in doing so, the very youth 
whom you have crossed in his dearest affections — crossed by tale- 
bearing and slander." ,, 

" / slander Mertoun ! " exclaimed Cleveland. " By heaven, I 
scarce mentioned his name at Burgh- Westra, if it is that which 
you mean. The peddling fellow, Bryce, meaning, I believe to be 
my friend, because he found something could be made by me, did, 
I have since heard, carry tattle or truth, I know not which, to the 
old man, which was confirmed by the report of the whole island. 
But for me, I scarce thought of him as a rival ; else, I had taken a 
more honourable way to rid myself him." 

"Was the point of your double-edged knife, directed to the 
bosom of an unarmed man, intended to carve out that more hon^ 
curable way ?" said Noma, sternly. 

THE PIRATE. ■ 377 

Cleveland was , conscience-struck, and remained silent lor an 
instant, ere he replied, " There, indeed, I was wrong ; but he is, I 
thank Heaven,recov'ered, and welcome toan honourable satisfaction.' 

" Cleveland," said the Pythoness, " No ! The fiend who employs 
you as his implement is powerful ; but with me he shall not strive. 
You are of that temperment which the dark Influences desire as 
the tools, of their agency; bold, haughty, and undaunted, unre- 
strained by principle, and having only in its room a wild sense of 
indomitable pride, which such men call hoHour. Such you are, 
and as such your course through life has been — onward, and unre- 
strained, bloody, and tempestuous. By me, however, it shall be 
controlled," she concluded, stretching out her staff, as if in the atti- 
tude of determined authority — " ay, even although the demon who 
presides over it should now arise in his terrors." 

Cleveland laughed scornfully. " Good mother," he said, " re- 
serve such language for the rude sailor that implores you to bestow 
him fair wind, or the poor fisherman that asks success to his nets 
and lines. I have been long inaccessible both to fear and to 
superstition. Call forth your demon, if you command one, and 
place him before me. The man that has spent three years in 
company with incarnate devils, can scarce dread the presence of a 
disembodied fiend." 

This was said with a careless and desperate bitterness of spirit, 
which proved too powerfully energetic even for the delusions of 
Noma's insanity ; and it was with a hollow and tremulous voice 
'.hat she asked Cleveland—" For what, then, do you hold me, if you 
aeny the power I have bought so dearly ? " 

" You have wisdom, mother," said Cleveland ; " at least you 
have art, and art is power. I hold you for one who knows how 
to steer upon the current of events, but I deny your power to 
change its course. Do not, therefore, waste words in quoting 
terrors for which I have no feeling, but tell me at once, wherefore 
you would have me depart ? " 

"Because I will have you see Minna no more," answered 
Noma — " Because Minna is the destined bride of him whom men 
call Mordaunt Mertoun — Because if you depart not within twenty- 
four hours, utter destruction awaits you. In these plain words 
there is 110 metaphysical delusion — Answer me as plainly." 

" In as plain words, then," answered Cleveland, " I will not leave 
thr-se islands — not, at least, till I have seen Minna Troil ; and never 
slicill your Mordaunt possess her while I live." 

" Hear him ! " said Noma — " hear a mortal man spurn at the 
means of prolonging his life ! —hear a sinful — a most sinful being, 
refuse the time which fate yet affords for repentance, and for 


the salvation of ,an immortal soul !— Behold him how he stands 
erect, bold and confident in his youthful strength and courage ! 
My eyes, unused to tears — even my eyes, which have so little cause 
to weep for him, a,re blinded with sorrow to think what so fair a 
form will be ere the second sun set ! " 

" Mother," said Cleveland, firmly, yet with some touch of sorrow 
in his voice, " I in part understand your threats. You know more 
than we do of the course of the Halcyon — perhaps have the means 
(for I acknowledge you have shown wonderful skill of combination 
in such affairs) of directing her cruise our way. Be it 'so, — I will 
not depart from my purpose for that risk. If the frigate comes 
hither, we have still our shoal water to trust to ; and I think they 
wiU scarce cut us out with boats, as if we were a Spanish xebeck. 
I am therefore resolved I will hoist once more the flag under which 
I have cruised, avail ourselves of the thousand chances which Jiave 
helped us in greater odds, and, at the worst, fight the vessel to the 
very last ; and, when mortal man can do no more, it is but snap- 
ping a pistol in the powder-room, and, as we have lived, so will we 

There was a dead pause as Cleveland ended ; and it was broken 
by his resuming, in a softer tone — " You have heard my answer, 
mother ; let us debate it no further, but part in peace. I would 
willingly leave you a remembrance, that you may not forget a poor 
fellow to whom your services have been useful, and who parts with 
you in no unkindness, however unfriendly you are to his dearest 
interests. — Nay, do not shun to accept such a triile," he said, 
forcing upon NoAia the little silver enchased box which had been 
once the subject of strife betwixt Mertoun and him ; " it is not 
for the sake of the metal, which I know you value not, but simply 
as a memorial that you have met him of whom many a strange tale 
will hereafter be told in the seas which he has traversed." 

" I accept your gift," said Noma, " in token that, if I have in 
aught been accessary to your fate, it was as the involuntary and 
grieving agent of other powers. Well did you say we direct not 
the current of events which hurry us forward, and render our 
utmost efforts unavailing ; even as the wells of Tuftiloe * can 
wheel the stoutest vessel round and round, in despite of either sail 
or steerage. — Pacolet ! " she exclaimed, in a louder voice, " what, 
ho ! Pacolet ! " 

A large stone, which lay at the side of the wall of the hovel, fell 
as she spoke, and to Cleveland's surprise, if not somewhat to hi^ 
fear, the misshapen form of the dwarf was seen, like some over- 
grown reptile, extricating himself out of a subterranean passage, 
the entrance to which the stone had covered. 


Noma, as if impressed by what Cleveland had said on the sub- 
ject of her supernatural pretensions, was so far from endeavouring 
to avail herself of this opportunity to enforce them, that she hastened 
to explain the phenomenon he had witnessed. 

" Such passages," she said, " to which the entrances are care- 
fully concealed, are frequently found in these islands — the places 
of retreat of the ancient inhabitants, where they sought refuge 
from the rage of the Normans, the pirates of that day. It was 
that you might avail yourself of this,in case of need, that I brought 
you hither. Should you observe signs 'of pursuit, you may either 
lurk in the bowels of the earth until it has passed by, or escape, 
if you will, through the farther entrance near the lake, by which 
Pacolet entered but now. — And now farewell ! Think on what I 
have said ; for as sure as you now move and breathe a living man, 
so surely is your doom fixed and sealed, unless, within four-and- 
twenty hours, you have doubled the Burgh-head." 

" Farewell, mother ! " said Cleveland, as she departed, bending a 
look upon him, in which, as he could perceive by the lamp, sorrow 
was mingled with displeasure. 

The interview, which thus concluded, left a strong effect even 
upon the mind of Cleveland, accustomed as he was to imminent 
dangers and to hair-breadth escapes. He in vain attempted to 
shake off the impression left by the words of Noma, which he 
felt the more powerful, because they were in a great measure 
divested of her wonted mystical tone, which he contemned. A 
thousand times he regretted that he had from time to time de- 
layed the resolution, wnich he had long adopted, to quit his dread- 
ful and dangerous trade ; and as often he firmly determined, that, 
could he but see Minna Troil once more, were it but for a last fare- 
well, he would leave the sloop, as soon as his comrades were extri- 
cated from their perilous situation, endeavour to obtain the benefit 
of the King's pardon,' and distinguish himself, if possible, in some 
more honourable course of warfare. 

This resolution, to which he again and again pledged himself, had 
at length a sedative effect on his mental perturbation, and, wrapt 
in his cloak, he enjoyed, for a time, that imperfect repose which 
exhausted nature demands as her tribute, even from those who are 
situated on the verge of the most imminent danger. But how far 
soever the guilty may satisfy his own mind, and stupify the feelings 
of remorse, by such a conditional repentance, we may well question 
whether it is not, in the sight of Heaven, rather a presumptuous 
•aggravation, than an expiation of his sins. 

When Cleveland awoke, the grey dawn was already mingling 
with the twilight of an Orcadian night. He found himself on the 


verge of a beautiful sheet of waterj which, close by the place 
where he had rested, was nearly divided by two tongues of land 
that approach each other from the opposing sides of the lake, and 
are in some degree united by the Bridge of Broisgar, a long cause- 
way, containing openings to permit the flow and reflux of the tide. 
Behind him, and fronting to the bridge, stood that remarkable 
semicircle of huge upright stones, which has no rival in Britain, 
except the inimitable monument at Stonehenge. These immense 
blocks of stone, all of them above twelve feet, and several being 
even fourteen or fifteen feet in height, stood around the pirate in 
the grey light of the dawning, like the phantom forms of antedilu- 
vian giants, who, shrouded in the habihments of the dead, came to 
revisit, by this pale light, the earth which they had plagued by their 
oppression and polluted by their sins, till they brought down upon 
it the vengeance of long-suffering Heaven.* 

Cleveland was less interested by this singular monument of 
antiquity than by the distant view of Stromness, which he could 
as yet scarce discover. He lost no time in striking a light, by 
the assistance [of one of his pistols, and some wet fern supplied 
him with fuel sufficient to make the appointed signal. It had been 
earnestly watched for on board the sloop ; for Goffe's incapacity 
became daily more apparent ; and even his most steady adherents 
agreed it would be best to submit to Cleveland's command till they 
got back to the West Indies. 

Bunce, who came with the boat to bring off his favourite com- 
mander, danced, cursed, shouted, and spouted for joy, when he 
saw him once more at freedom. " They had already," he said, 
"made some progress in victualling the sloop, and they might 
have made more, but for that drunken old swab Gofife, who 
minded nothing but splicing the main-brace." 

The boat's crew were inspired with the same enthusiasm, and 
rowed so hard, that, although the tide was against them, and the 
air of wind failed, they soon placed Cleveland once more on the 
quarter-deck of the vessel which it was his misfortune to com' 

The first exercise of the Captain's power was to make known 
to Magnus Troil that he was at fuU freedom to depart — that he 
was willing to make him any compensation in his power, for the 
interruption of his voyage to Kirkwall ; and that Captain Cleve- 
land was desirous, if agreeable to Mr. Troil, to pay his respects 
to him on board his brig — thank him for former favours, and 
apologize for the circumstances attending his detention. 

To Bunce, who, as the most civiliaed of the crew, Cleveland had 
intrusted this message, the old plain-dealing Udaller made the fol- 


lowing answer : " Tell your Captain that I should be glad to 
think he had never stopped any one upon the high sea, save such 
as have suffered as little 'as I have. Say, too, that if we are to 
continue friends, ~we shall be most so at a distance ; for I like the 
sound of his cannon-balls as little by sea, as he would like the 
whistle of a bullet by land from my rifle-gun. Say, in a word, that 
I am sorry I was mistaken in him, and that he would have done 
better to have reserved for the Spaniard the usage he is bestowing 
on his countrymen." 

" And so that is your message, old Snapcholeric ? " said Bunce — 
" Now, stap my vitals' if I have not a mind to do your errand for 
you over the left shoulder, and teach vou more respect for gentle- 
men of fortune ! But I wont, chiefly for the sake of your two pretty 
wenches, not to mention my old friend Claud Halcro, the very 
visage of whom brought back all the old days of scene-shifting and 
candle-snuffing. So good morrow to you. Gaffer Seal's-cap, and 
all is said that need pass between us." 

No sooner did the boat put off with the pirates, who left the brig, 
and now returned to their own vessel, than Magnus, in order to 
avoid reposing unnecessary confidence in the honour"of these gen- 
tlemen of fortune, as they called themselves, got his brig under 
way ; and, the wind coming favourably round, and increasing as 
the sun rose, he crowded all sail for Scalpa-flow, intending there to 
disembark and go by land to Kirkwall, where he expected to ineet 
his daughters and his friend Claud Halcro. 


Now, Emma, now the last reflection make, 
What thou wouldst follow, what thou must forsake. 
By our ill-omen'd stars and adverse Heaven, ■ 
No middle object to thy choice is given. 

Henry and Emma. 

T«E sun was high in heaven ; the boats were busily fetching off 
from the shore the promised supply of provisions and water, which, 
as many fishing skiffs Tvere employed in the service, were got on 
board with unexpected speed, and stowed away by the crew of the 
sloop, with equal despatch. All worked with good will ; for all, 
save Cleveland himself, were weary of a coast, where every moment 
increased their danger, and where; which they esteemed a worse 


misfortune, there was no booty to be won Bunce and Derrick 
took the immediate direction of this duty, while Cleveland, walking 
the deck alone, and in silence, only interfered from time to time, to 
give some order which circumstances required, and then relapsed 
into his own sad reflections. 

There are two sorts of men whom situations of guilt, terror, and 
commotion, bring forward as prominent agents. The first are 
spirits so naturally moulded and fitted for deeds of horror, that 
they stalk forth from their lurking-places like actual demons, to 
work in their native element, as the hideous apparition of the 
Bearded Man came forth at Versailles, on the memorable 5th 
October, 1789, the delighted executioner of the victims delivered 
up to him by a bloodthirsty rabble. But Cleveland belonged to 
the second class of these unfortunate beings, who are involved in 
evil rather by the concurrence of external circumstances than by 
natural inclination, being, indeed, one of whom his first engaging 
in this lawless mode of life, as the follower of his father, nay, per- 
haps, even his pursuing it as his father's avenger, carried with it 
something of mitigation and apology ;— one also who often con- 
sidered his guilty situation with horror, and had made repeated, 
though ineffectual efforts, to escape from it. 

Such thoughts of remorse were now rolling in his mind, and he 
may be forgiven, if recollections of Minna mingled with and aided 
them. He looked around, too, on his mates, and, profligate and 
hardened as he knew them to be, he could not think of them 
paying the penalty of his obstinacy. " We shall be ready to sail 
with the ebb tide," he said to himself^" why should I endanger 
these men, by detaining them till the hour of danger, predicted by 
that singular woman, shall arrive? Her inteUigence, howsoever 
acquired, has been always strangely accurate ; and her warning 
was as solemn as if a mother were to apprize an erring son of his 
crimes, and of his approaching punishment. Besides, what chance 
is there that I can again see Minna ? She is at Kirkwall, doubt- 
less, and to hold my course thither would be to steer right upon 
the rocks. No, I will not endanger these poor fellows — I will sail 
with the ebb tide. On the desolate Hebrides, or on the north-west 
coast of Ireland, I will leave the vessel, and return hither in some 
disguise— yet, why should I return, since it will perhaps be only to 
see Minna the bride of Mordaunt ? No— let the vessel sail with 
this ebb tide without me. I will abide and take my fate." 

His meditations were here interrupted by Jack Bunce, who, hail- 
ing him noble Captain, said they were ready to sail when he pleased. 

""When you please, Bunce ; for I shall leave the command with 
you, and go ashore at Stromness," said Cleveland. 


"You shall do no such matter, by Heaven !" answered Bunce. 
" The command with me, truly ! and how the devil am I to get the 
crew to obey ?;z« .? Why, even Dick Fletcher rides rusty on me 
now and then. You know well enough that, without you, we shall 
be all at each other's throats in half an hour ; and, if you desert 
us, what a rope's end does it signify whether we are destroyed by 
the king's cruisers, or by each other ? Come, come, noble Captain, 
there are black-eyed girls enough in the world, but where will you 
find so tight a sea-boat as the little Favourite here, manned as she 
is with a set of tearing lads, 

' Fit to disturb the peace of all the world. 
And rule it when 'tis wildest ? ' " 

" You are a precious fool. Jack Bunce," said Cleveland, half an- 
gry, and, in despite of himself, half diverted, by the false tones and 
exaggerated gesture of the stage-struck pirate. 

" I may be so, noble Captain," answered Bunce, " and it may be 
that I have my comrades in my folly. Here are you, now, going to 
play All for Love, and the World well Lost, and yet you cannot 
bear a harmless bounce in blank verse — Well, I can talk prose for 
the matter, for I have news enough to tell — and strange news^ too 
— ay, and stirring news to boot." 

" Well, prithee deliver them (to speak thy own cant) like a man 
of this world." 

" The Stromness fishers will accept nothing for their provisions 
and trouble," said Bunce — " there is a wonder for you ! " 

" And for what reason, I pray ? " said Cleveland ; " it is the first 
time I have ever heard of cash being refused at a seaport." 

" True — they commonly lay the charges on as thick as if they 
were caulking. But here is the matter. The owner of the brig 
yonder, the father of your fair Imoinda, stands paymaster, by way 
of thanks for the civility with which we treated his daughters, and 
that we may not meet our due, as he calls it, on these shores." 

" It is like the frank-hearted old Udaller ! " said Cleveland ; " but 
is he at Stromness ? I thought he was to have crossed the island 
for Kirkwall." 

" He did so purpose," said Bunce ; "but more folks than King 
Duncan change the course of their voyage. He was no sooner 
ashore than he was met with by a meddhng old witch of these 
parts, who has her finger in every man's pie, and by her counsel he 
changed his purpose of going to Kirkwall, and lies at anchor for 
the present ^in yonder white house, that you may see with your 


glass up the lake yonder. I am told the old woman clubbed also 
to pay for the sloop's stores. Why she should shell out the boards 
I cannot conceive an idea, except that she is said to be a witch, and 
may befriend us as so many devils." 

" But who told you all this ?" said Cleveland, without using his 
spy-glass, or seeming so much interested in the news as his comrade 
had expected. 

" Why," replied Bunce, " I made a trip ashore this morning to 
the village, and had a can with an old acquaintance, who had been 
sent by Master Troil to look after matters, and I fished it all out 
of him, and more, too, than I am desirous of telling you, noble 

" And who is your intelligencer ? " said Cleveland ; " has he got 
no name ? " 

"Why, he is an old, fiddling, foppish acquaintance of mine, 
called Halcro, if you must know," said Bunce. 

" Halcro ? " echoed Cleveland, his eyes sparkling with surprise— 
" Claud Halcro ! — why, he went ashore at Inganess with Minna and 
her sister — Where are they?" 

" Why, that is just what I did not want to tell you," replied the 
confidant — " yet hang me if I can help it, for I cannot baulk a fine 
situation. — That start had a fine effect — O ay, and the spy-glass is 
turned on the House of Stennis now ! — Well, yonder they are, it 
must be confessed — indifferently well guarded, too. Some of the 
old witch's people are come over from that mountain of an island 
— Hoy, as they call it ; and the old gentleman has got some fellows 
under arms himself. But what of all that, noble Captain ! — give 
you but the word, and we snap up the wenches to-night — clap them 
under hatches — man the capstem by daybreak — up topsails — and 
sail with the morning tide." 

"You sicken me with your villainy," said Cleveland, turning away 
from him. 

" Umph !— villainy, and sicken you ! " said Bunce — " Now, pray, 
what have I said but what has been done a thousand times by gen- 
tlemen of fortune like ourselves ? " , 

" Mention it not again," said Cleveland ; then took a turn along 
the deck, in deep meditation, and, coming back to Bunce, took him 
by the hand, and said, "Jack, I will see her once more." 

" With all my heart," said Bunce, sullenly. 

" Once more will I see her, and it may be to abjure at her feet 
this cursed trade, and expiate my offences " 

" At the gallows ! " said Bunce, completing the sentence — " With 
all my heart !— confess and be hanged is a most reverend pro- 


" Nay— but, dear Jack ! " said Cleveland. 

"Dear Jack!" answered Bunco, in the same sullen tone — "a 
dear sight you have been to dear Jack. But hold your own course 
—I have done with, caring for you for ever — I should but sicken 
^ou with my villainous counsels." 

" Now, must I soothe this silly fellow as if he were a spoiled 
child," said Cleveland, speaking at Bunco, but not to him ; " and 
yet he has sense enough, and bravery enough, too ; and, one would 
think, kindness enough to know that men don't pick their words 
during a gale of wind." 

" Why, that's true, Clement," said Bunce, " and there is my hand 
upon it —And, now I think upon't, you shall have your last inter- 
view, for it's out of my line to prevent a parting scene ; and what 
signifies a tide — we can sail by to-morrow's ebb as well as by 
this." , -, 

Cleveland sighed, for Noma's prediction rushed on his mind ; 
but the opportunity of a last meeting with Minna was too tempting 
to be resigned either for presentiment or prediction. 

" I will go presently ashore to the place where they all are," said 
Bunce ; " and the payment of these stores shall serve me for a pre- 
text ; and I will carry any letters or message from you to Minna 
with the dexterity of a valet de chambre." 

" But they have armed men — you may be in aanger," said Cleve- 

" Not a whit— not a whit," replied Bunce. " I protected the 
wenches when they were in my power ; I warrant their father will 
neither wrong me, nor see me wronged." 

" You say true," said Cleveland, " it is not in his nature. 'I will 
instantly write a note to Minna." And he ran down to the cabin 
for that purpose, where he wasted much paper, ere, with a trembling 
hand, and throbbing heart, he achieved such a letter as he hoped 
might prevail on Minna to permit him a farewell meeting on the 
succeeding morning. 

His adherent, Bunce, in the meanwhile, sought out Fletcher, 
of whose support to second anyjnotion whatever, he accounted 
himself perfectly sure ; and, followed by this trusty satellite, he 
intruded himself on the awful presence of Hawkins the boatswain, 
and Derrick the quarter-master, who were regaling themselves with 
a can of rumbo, after the fatiguing duty of the day. 

" Here comes he can tell us," said Derrick.—" So, Master Lieu- 
tenant, for so me must call you now, I think,, let us have a peep 
into your counsels — When will the anchor be a-trip ? " 

"When it pleases heaven, Master Quarter-master," answered 
Bunce, " for I know no more than the stern-post." 

c c 


"Why, d— n my buttons," said Derrick, "do we not weigh this 

" Or to-morrow's tide,, at farthest ? " said the Boatswain—" Why, 
what have we been slaving" the whole company for, to get all these 
stores aboard?" ^ <jie!.^^ 

" Gentlemen," said Bunce, " you are to know that Cupid has laid 
our Captain on board, carried the vessel, and nailed down his wits 
under hatches." 

" What sort of play-stuff is all this ? " said the Boatswain, 
gruffly. - " If you have anything to tell us, say it in a word, like a 

" Howsomdever," said Fletcher, " I always think Jack Bunce 

speaks like a man, and acts like a man too — and so, d'ye see " 

f " Hold your peace, dear Dick, best of buUybacks, be silent,'' said 
Bunce — " Gentlemen, in one word, the Captain is in love." 

" Why; now, only think of that ! " said the Boatswain ; " not but 
that I have been in love as often as any man, when the ship was 
laid up." 

" Well, but," continued Bunce, " Captain Cleveland is in love 
— Yes — Prince Volscius is in love ; and, though that's the cue for 
laughing on the stage, it is no laughing matter here. He expects 
to meet the girl to-morrow, for the last time ; and that, we all 
know, leads to another meeting, and another, and so on till the 
Halcyon is down on us, and then we may look for more kicks than 

" By — ," said the Boatswain, with a sounding oath, " we'll have 
a munity, and not allow him to go ashore, — eh, Derrick ?" 

" And the best way, too," said Derrick. 

" What d'ye think of it, Jack Bunce ? " said Fletcher, in whose 
ears this counsel sounded very sagely, but who still bent a wistful 
look upon his companion. 

" Why, look ye, gentlemen," said Bunce, " I will mutiny none, 
and stap my vitals if any of you shall ! " 

" Why, then I won't, for one," said Fletcher ; " but what are we 
to do, since howsomdever" 

" Stopper your jaw, Dick, will you ? " said Bunce. — " Now, Boat- 
swain, I am partly of your mind, that the Captain must be brought 
to reason by a little wholesome force. But you all know he has the 
spirit of a Uon, and will do nothing unless he i^ allowed to hold on 
his own course. Well, I'll go ashore and make this appointment. 
This girl comes to the rendezvous in the morning, and the Captain 
goes ashore — we take a good boat's crew with us, to row against 
tide and current, and we will be ready at the signal, to jump ashore 
and bring off the Captain and the girl whether they will or no. 


The pet-child will not quarrel with us, since we bring off his whir- 
ligig along with him ; and if he is still fractious, why, we will weigh 
anchor without his orders, and let him come to his senses at leisure, 
and know his friends another time." 

" Why, this has a face with it, Master Derrick," said Hawkins. 

" Jack Bunce is always right," said Fletcher ; " howsomdever, 
the Captain will shoot some of us, that is certain." 

" Hold your jaw, Dick," said Bunce ; " pray, who the devil cares, 
do you think, whether you are shot or hanged } " 

"Why, it don't much argufy for the matter of that," replied 
Di(jk ;" howsomdever" ' 

" Be quiet, I tell you," said his inexorable patron, " and hear me 
out. — We will take him at unawares, so that he shall neither have 
time to use cutlass nor pops ; and I myself, for the dear love I bear 
him, will be the first to lay him on his back. There is a nice 
tight-going bit of a pinnace, that is a consort of this chase of the 
Captain's,— if I have an opportunity, I'll snap her up on my own 

"Yes, yes," said Derrick, " let you alone for keeping on the look- 
out for your own comforts." 

" Faith, nay," said Bunce, " I only snatch at them when they 
come fairly in my way, or are purchased by dint of my own wit ; 
and none of you could have fallen on such a plan as this. We shall 
have t